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Twitter flags tweet by Trump as ‘glorifying violence’ as protests rage in Minneapolis

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Twitter has tagged a tweet by President Trump as a violation of its rules “about glorifying violence” after he threatened a harsh crackdown on protests in Minneapolis, warning that “any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”

The move by the social media giant is sure to inflame the growing hostility between the White House and Twitter, hitherto Trump’s favored mode of communication. After the company began flagging some of his tweets as misleading earlier this week, Trump signed an executive order Thursday aimed at limiting the immunity of some digital media companies over the content on their platforms.

On Friday morning, after his tweet on the George Floyd protests was tagged, Trump complained — again on Twitter — that the company was biased against him and others on the political right. “Twitter is doing nothing about all of the lies & propaganda being put out by China or the Radical Left Democrat Party. They have targeted Republicans, Conservatives & the President of the United States,” Trump wrote, vowing that the platform “will be regulated!”

Later, the White House put out the same offending tweet about the Minneapolis protests from its own Twitter account, but it, too, was slapped with a warning label.

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Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, who is expected to address the situation in Minneapolis later Friday, sharply criticized the president in a tweet of his own.

“He is calling for violence against American citizens during a moment of pain for so many,” Biden said. “I’m furious, and you should be too.”

In his tweet about the protests, Trump denounced some of the demonstrators as “THUGS.” Despite the warning label about glorifying violence, Twitter allowed the post to remain up “in the public’s interest” but blocked users from responding to it.

Screen shot of a Trump tweet that was flagged by Twitter.
(Twitter)
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Floyd, who was black, died Monday after a white police officer was videotaped kneeling on his neck for several minutes. The incident has sparked outrage and protests across the U.S., including in Minneapolis itself, where demonstrators late Thursday overran and set fire to a police station near the spot where Floyd, 46, was pinned down.

Some stores have been looted, other buildings have been set ablaze and protesters have fired guns into the air. Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz has called in the National Guard.

Trump’s post about the demonstrations was his third to be flagged by Twitter, which slapped two fact-check warnings on his tweets castigating the use of mail-in ballots.

A new executive order by President Trump to crack down on social media bias is wrong in so many ways, we can’t even begin to count them.

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He took particular aim at California and at Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom’s plan to send mail-in ballots to all voters. Trump falsely claimed that the state distributed ballots to noncitizens and, without proof, alleged that people would print and mail in fake ballots “by the hundreds of thousands.”

Whether Trump’s executive order will have any teeth is unclear, though it could increase pressure on Twitter, Facebook, Google and other Silicon Valley companies by opening the door to lawsuits and regulatory reviews.

In another tweet on the Minneapolis protests, Trump attacked the leadership of the “very weak Radical Left Mayor, Jacob Frey” and admonished him to “get his act together and bring the City under control.”

That earned a derisive retort from Frey, who told reporters: “Donald Trump knows nothing about the strength of Minneapolis. ... Weakness is refusing to take responsibility for your own actions. Weakness is about pointing your finger at somebody else during a time of crisis.”

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Times staff writer Chris Megerian contributed to this report.


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