Twitter Hits Trump With New Warning Over Tweet “Glorifying Violence”

Twitter LogoLate last night, Twitter doubled down on its controversial labeling of tweets from President Donald Trump to flag what it views as misleading or offensive material.  Yesterday, I wrote a column on Twitter’s policy and a second column on President Trump’s response with an executive order. I have strongly opposed Twitter’s policy on censoring and labeling material, including the decision to correct a tweet from the President on the political debate over main-in voting. Undeterred, Twitter has issued a new warning that a tweet from the President on the rioting in Minneapolis was a violation of its rule for “glorifying violence.” Twitter is now making the case for government action to monitor and control social media.  The loser will ultimately be free speech.

Around midnight, President Trump responded to the images of looting and rioting with a tweet that demanded action from the Governor and said that, if there is no action, “we will assume control.” He then added “when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!”

Twitter appended a message to a Trump tweet about civil unrest saying it violated policies covering violence

Last night, I criticized the tweets as inflammatory and unhelpful. However, that does not justify what Twitter has done.  The company slapped on a warning that that the tweet “violates our policies regarding the glorification of violence based on the historical context of the last line, its connection to violence, and the risk it could inspire similar actions today.”  It said that it “has determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the tweet to remain accessible.”

Any of Trump’s roughly 80 million followers could still view the tweet if they clicked on “view.”  However, due to the action by Twitter, users cannot “like” or retweet the President’s comments.

Twitter could not be doing more to highlight the threat to free speech in first targeting a political tweet on main-voting and then targeting a second tweet under the ambiguous standard of  “glorifying violence.”  Let’s unpack its message and its meaning.

First, calling for tough law enforcement is a quintessential political statement.  My objections was not that it glorified violence but that it was an irresponsible escalation of the rhetoric when Minneapolis police were struggling with a very dangerous and volatile situation.

Second, “glorifying violence” could be a standard used to curtail everything from War and Peace to Looney Tune cartoons.  It is an arbitrary standard that invites biased enforcement.  For example, Kathy Griffin ( the comedian responsible for the infamous severed Trump head picture) called out to her followers that Trump should be stabbed with a “syringe with nothing but air inside it.” Such reckless and inflammatory speech is all-too-common in today’s politics.  I have been hit with violent threats on every social media platform, including people calling for me to be physically attacked on Twitter. That was not flagged or deemed “glorifying violence.” The fact is that I would oppose the censoring or labeling of those comments against me because I remain a firm believer that good speech will prevail over bad speech.  It is more important to me to preserve Twitter and other platforms as a forum for free speech.

Third, where Trump escalated the rhetoric, Twitter has escalated its controls.  As discussed in the columns, Democratic leaders have called for years for Twitter and other companies to crackdown on political speech deemed misleading or false.  It is now plunging headlong into private censorship and speech regulation. This is wrong and a threat to free speech. As a private entity, Twitter falls below the radar of the First Amendment. However, it can cause irreparable damage to free speech by limiting expression for hundreds of millions of users.

Finally, Twitter is making the case against itself. It is given protections under Section 320 because it has claimed to being neutral supplier of virtual space for people to speak with one another.  Roughly 80 million people want to hear from Trump, not Twitter. Yet, Twitter has again inserted itself into that conversation to convey its own view of what is being discussed.  Imagine if the telephone company took it upon itself to periodically interrupt calls to express its view of what was just said.  If Twitter insists on being an active participant in such postings, it is changing its legal status and morphing into a viewpoint publisher.

I am still leery of the government intervening on social media.  Free speech has few advocates in this fight.  It is primary a struggle between Twitter, Trump, and the Democrats over who controls such speech.  Indeed, yesterday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi denounced Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg for resisting speech monitoring and censorship as a matter of free speech. Pelosi lashed out that those who want to preserve a free speech zone are “all about making money,” ignoring free speech advocates who have no financial interest in these companies. Pelosi said that opposing such monitoring means that social media companies simply want “to make money at the expense of the truth and the facts” and are trying to “hide under the freedom of speech.”

Twitter had the chance to admit error and return to neutrality in the interest of free speech. It is clearly more concerned with expressing its views than preserving its forum.  Frankly, I would not care about such self-inflicted wounds except that free speech will likely suffer the collateral damage from Twitter’s glorifying speech controls.

196 thoughts on “Twitter Hits Trump With New Warning Over Tweet “Glorifying Violence””

  1. Dear Jonathan, this is the man you defended during the impeachment.

    For all of Trump’s past vicious insults against opponents and critics, this time his “wantonly cruel attacks” are “distinctive,” Yale emeritus law professor Peter H. Schuck wrote Thursday in an op-ed in The New York Times. His Scarborough attacks “may constitute intentional torts for which a civil jury could award punitive damages against him” — and he could be sued for his actions while still in the White House, Schuck warned.

    1. Dear Jonathan, this is the man you defended during the impeachment.

      Dim-witted suburban empathy-mom confuses law and constitutional tradition with suburban niceness.

  2. The fact that Trump supporters are OK with Trump lying and deflecting and deceiving is proof, they could care less with the real world or real reality. They hate like he does and that’s good enough for them.

    1. I don’t know. Seems kind of funny it’s your kind that are looting and burning cities across the USA. Is that hate or is that lying and deflecting and deceiving for proof ?
      Frankly you could care less how many cities burn, and that good enough for you and yours. That’s the current reality. Hating Trump won’t change that, it only increases the burning cities and the looting. It’s your excuse for it all.

  3. Ali Khamenei on Twitter:

    “Israel is a malignant cancerous tumor in the West Asian region that has to be removed and eradicated: it is possible and it will happen.”

    Twitter approves of this tweet and many others like it.

    1. I can’t say twitter approves of such passive statements. I can tell you it does not approve of words intended to inflame or influence present day violence. Trumps tweets were all incredibly insensitive and incendiary.

      1. I’ll just copy and paste from above: Frankly you could care less how many cities burn, and that good enough for you and yours. That’s the current reality. Hating Trump won’t change that, it only increases the burning cities and the looting. It’s your excuse for it all.

        Wow, look at that, I was 100% correct before I read your post. It’s like I read your mind.

  4. Forget Trump as an element of this debate; the simple fact is, either these social meeting platforms are neutral and protected from suit, or they are editorial and moderating, and are not protected by lawsuit.
    They have been having it both ways, with no clear TOS or ways of determining, or correcting, how they are allegedly violated when the sites censor speech.
    I would not remove protections under CDA §230, the social media site should simply follow the plain language of the statute. Give them immunity, when they are truly neutral and non-interfering.
    The danger here is real; the social networking platforms are the new townsquare, it is how people communicate en mass with eachother — for them to have the ability to put a thumb on the scale of common social communication regarding national and election speech is to influence said elections artificially.
    And given the circumstance that should be illegal.
    That Trump is finally the one doing this is telling, as he is more than willing to be antiestablishmentarian, and this truly needed to be clarified.

    1. Your typical brilliance in thought and analysis. Thanks, Gary. Always a pleasure.

    2. Gary, townsquares are public spaces owned by the public.

      Whereas Media Platforms are essentially private stages members of the public can use (under set rules).

    3. Gary, Dude, are you saying there should be no standards and Twitter should let it all rip? I seriously doubt that. IF not, then obvious falsehoods and incitements to violence should be among those things they rightly block. There are facts, everything is not either a pro- or anti-Trump opinion.

      1. bythebook:

        Facebook advertises itself as a communication service. However while claiming to be neutral, it employs Democrat committees to determine what is true or false. It invariably boils down to not a matter of truth, but whether they agree with a statement.

        You should look into this more as it pertains to Dennis Prager. He is a very reasonable person. The PragerU videos have been made by interesting people, ranging from Noble prize winners to Ivy League professors. And yet, his channel and Facebook page are routinely targeted by Youtube and Facebook. A video on the 10 Commandments was labeled as inappropriate for children, and taken out of distribution to restricted audiences, because it contained the commandment, Thou Shalt Not Kill. He has had truthful videos marked as fake news because it disagreed with Democrat party lines.

        At this point, Youtube, Google, Facebook, and Twitter should all be required to print a disclaimer that they are not neutral, and are in fact Democrat organizations that will censor speech they disagree with.

        You cannot have it both ways, pretend to be a public square while censoring.

        I actually do think that we need an uncensored public square. Anything legal to say in public should be unrestricted. Anything for mature audiences only should be filtered out for restricted access users, like minors.

        Anything illegal should be forwarded to law enforcement.

        Other than that, no, I don’t need some group of Democrats in Menlo Park to monitor what I am allowed to read, informing me that if it is not Democrat propaganda, it’s not true. I don’t need anyone to do my vetting and research for me. We are adults, and should be treated that way.

        As Professor Turley said, you wouldn’t want the phone company listening in on your conversations, and cutting the call if they didn’t agree with what you and your friend were saying.

        The First Amendment only guarantees that the government will not persecute you for what you say. A private company or employer does not fall under this purview. (Kaepernick fans may be shocked.) However, it certainly is false advertising. I also think that the blatant effort to affect elections needs to be investigated. Perhaps the law needs to catch up.

        Everything uses GOOGLE’s algorithm. When GOOGLE tailors its search algorithm to ensure that the answers you get to queries pushes you towards the Democrat talking points, that is election interference. This isn’t just a private club or PAC distributing pamphlets to like minded voters. This is the gateway to the information available on the internet. And the internet IS the public square.

    4. I’ve looked at the statute and can’t find where immunity is based on the platform being “neutral and non-interfering.” It’s just not there, in plain or any other language. Immunity is based on who produces the content. If Twitter does, they’re liable. They’re not liable for posts created by others. Here’s the relevant statute in its entirety.

      (1)Treatment of publisher or speaker
      No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.

  5. Liberty2nd – we know from comments from the onlookers that his nose was bleeding, you can hear how raspy his voice is. When you see it from the other side there is one on his neck, one maybe on his diaphragm and one on his legs.At some point he pees his pants and then does it again (probably when he dies). Hard to tell how much pressure is being applied, however it is not an acceptable hold or takedown method for the department.

  6. So, if Twitter is an unbiased platform, why is it that Kathy Griggin’s tweets are unmarked, uncorrected, not banned or censored in any way by Twitter?
    Twitter is exactly highlighting and exacerbating the very complaints being made as to their being a publisher and not a platform.
    What kind of idiocy and emotional petulance are they having at their highest executive meetings? They are simply proving the point that they violate CDA §240 all the time, and pick and choose who they like and who they censor.
    There is no legal protection against this kind of capriciousness; the president is timely in clarifying the existing rules that they have broken for ever.

    1. “They are simply proving the point that they violate CDA §240 all the time, and pick and choose who they like and who they censor.”

      This is obvious, but the lefties are happy seeing the conservatives get censored. There is no reasoning with the left.

  7. Must say, I’m disappointed with Turley attacking Twitter. It’s a private entity and well within its rights to censor or fact-check.

    1. Yes, well within its rights under the 1st Amendment.
      Not well within its rights under the CDA §230 immunizing statute.

      1. Here’s the statute. What you claim isn’t actually there.

        (1)Treatment of publisher or speaker
        No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.
        (2)Civil liability
        No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be held liable on account of—
        (A)any action voluntarily taken in good faith to restrict access to or availability of material that the provider or user considers to be obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected;

        1. “…any action voluntarily taken in good faith”

          We have their hit lists, they have been leaked. That isn’t good faith, that’s electioneering and societal speech control and editorializing and publishing.

          They(you know what SMP) openly deny “the blue checkmark” to their partisan enemies “the other party”- it’s a running joke in public all over the internet.

          They have been caught manipulating news feeds to the left, and banning the right. They have been caught shadow banning, unsubscribing, not sending notifications, not sharing pages, all in one direction very heavily, against of course, anyone not a lib demo left cultist, against half the USA.

          It’s a totally political operation. Their internal whistle blowers have been streaming forth and their executives are caught on video screaming hatred toward the R conserve Trump alt tea, etc. The very culture is with us or fired.

          Not like any of you can be honest about, you’re with the corruption 100% full on. Just like you are with domestic terrorism the past week.

  8. It is clearly time for Twitter, Youtube, and Facebook to lose their protected status under Section 320.

  9. Is social media a public forum, or private publisher? If it is a private publisher, then it should accurately display that on its webpage. It should be made to honestly admit, online, that it will censor conservative content and promote Democrat positions. Anything less is false advertising.

    Republicans have every right to be upset at the selective censorship of their views across all the major social media platforms. As usual, I strongly believe that all presidents, and especially President Trump, should empty a team of social media writers to vet his Tweets. He is very extemporaneous, and often lays out land mines in his own path. Instead of when the looting starts, the shooting starts, he should have said how shameful it is to loot supplies in a pandemic. Looters would be arrested. There are often warnings of this nature in parts of the country that regularly experience natural disasters, like flooding or tornados. Copy. Paste. People in his speechwriter department must be chugging antacids and blood pressure medication in bulk.

    However, we deal with the reality before us. Trump is not interested in a protective layer between his thumbs and Twitter. There is a valid crisis over access to the public sphere. GOOGLE dominates search algorithms. Even other platforms use the GOOGLE algorithm. They are a Democrat organization that deliberately crafts search results to skew Left. There is no alternative. Even Duck Duck Go just offers a platform free of tracking, but not free of the GOOGLE algorithm. Youtube, Facebook, and Twitter are all Democrat organizations, that deliberately censor Republican views, and openly admit they want to affect elections in favor of Democrats.

    They claim they are a public square. Their pioneering efforts in their respective fields have yielded a monopoly on the industry. But they are not a public square, at all.

    They should be forced to admit, on their sign up page, that they censor in order to support the Left.

    We need a real digital public square, for posts and video. Someone needs to step up and make that happen. It is so hard to fight the behemoth of Facebook and Youtube. I forwarded the petition to protest Facebook’s censorship of Dennis Prager…ironically…on Facebook. Because that’s the platform everyone uses.

    1. I don’t see any problem with Trump telling the truth. It’s perfect.
      “When the looting starts the shooting starts.
      Thank you.”

      Hey, we have one politician that tells the truth. He was very kind to give fair warning and commentary to all in a subtle and complex yet simple statement. I applaud him for it of course. It’s refreshing to hear. Of course the snooty ever fretting optics and face making and saving botox front forever DC crowd of consulting quacks got us to where we were, and are, with all their polished BS.

      You don’t get Trump, because he just spoke to the gang bangers, the ghetto bongers, the meboppers, and the whole rest of the little terrorizing in crowd, and warned them of the consequences, where he stood, not to mention covering for the law enforcement while the crybabies gasped in horror.

      He didn’t have to speak to the primping recoiling elite who screwed everything up for decades, they aren’t on the ground looting, they are safe in their enclaves.

      The best part besides the message directly to the unwanted and oppressed is the reaction of the entire swath of know it all and message designers and blabbering upper classes that desire so dearly to have a happy fluff session in soaring rhetoric to make them feel warm and fuzzy inside, but instead got delivered to the thudding, deadening, realistic rap of the situation, cold, hard, reality.

      Thank you.

  10. I’d like to see a searching trial of Twitter’s protected status under Article 320 on the grounds that its “conversational health” policies penalize anyone who openly disagrees with the politics of Twitter owner Jack Dorsey (@Jack on Twitter) and his senior staff with wide-ranging and completely arbitary restrictions on who may see their Tweets, and who may follow otherTwitterers under which conditions.

    The practical effect of that has been a chilling effect on libertarian and conservative posters on Twitter – essentially confining who sees their content to their Twitter followers, and restricting even those interactions by arbitrary limits on the number of their followers.

    Twitter’s not an honest broker under Artcile 320. The late Peter Fonda (@iamfonda) was allowed to indulge himself in obscene attacks on women and children connected to President Trump and his admiistration with NO such warnings appended to his posts by Twitter, and everyone in Twitter got to see those posts while they remained up (hours to days after Fonda posted them). Liberal commenters’ Tweets never draw the warnings Trump’s Tweets do.

    I don’t know about executive orders targeting Twitter, but denial of Twitter’s Article 320 protections under the CDA should definitely be considered by the Justice Department. Twitter acts much less like a safe harbor for all political viewpoints than a publisher of selected political content.

  11. Looting during a pandemic. Terrible crime.

    Also ironic, as these violent riots are supposedly to protest police misconduct. Looting and burning generally does not help the cause of claiming that it’s unfair for African Americans to be profiled as high crime.

    This is so frustrating. Of course George Floyd’s death should be investigated. That video broke my heart. I have asthma, so it was terrible to see a man surrounded by people say he couldn’t breathe, and appear to get no help. I have no idea what led up to the video, but what I saw was disturbing. I think they should have sat him up, tried different positions to see if it helped him breathe, ask his medical history, and call an ambulance. It has been alleged that he just recovered from Covid-19, so he could have had heart or lung damage.

    I’m hoping people in law enforcement can chime in, and say what’s the protocol in their area for when an arrestee says he can’t breathe.

    No one even knows if this was racial motivated, malicious, lack of training, or what. Black arrestee. White cop. Good enough to go riot.

    I cannot understand what is wrong with people, to go burn down businesses barely hanging on in the pandemic. All those people who work there just lost their jobs. And for what? What did this improve? Are they then going to complain that there are no more jobs in their areas? No stores since they burned them down?

    It is more important to do good, than feel good about your actions. It might have been gratifying to rage and break things, but they are all worse off now. Felt good. Did harm.

    Why not investigate, get all the facts? Was the cop racially motivated? Was the entire department racist? Is this a training issue? Did the cop think that since he was not kneeling on the windpipe, that the man couldn’t possibly be choking? What happened? You can’t fix something if you don’t know what’s wrong. And it’s incredibly misguided to torch a police station. Way to wreck your own neighborhood and turn it over to criminals. With all the jobs dried up, chasing away policing, and encouraging crime, this might very well have destroyed a generation of kids’ ability to get out of there.

    This isn’t right. This isn’t solving anything. Talking about anything. It’s just taking an opportunity to steal and burn.

    1. Twitter has yet to act on several cases in which racially and politically-based violence has been glorified on their platform. I’ve reported 7 such cases to @twittersafety using the platform’s prescribed method for such reports – the Tweets remain up. I wish I could say that the excuse Twitter posts during the reporting process (basically “because COVID”) was plausible, but they found time to censure Trump’s tweets while allowing Tweets calling for racially-based violence to remain up.

    2. Twitter probably supports it. Hope they swing by Twiiter hq and change some minds. CNN might be rethinking stirring up violence just now.

  12. Pelosi, like virtually all Dems who are quoted, like to lie about others. She complains about free speech as about folks who want:
    to make money at the expense of the truth and the facts

    In fact, NYT, WaPo, CNN, MSNBC, and most all news outlets have made a ton of money promoting the Russian Collusion Hoax.

    Remember when Trump said Obama spied on him? Each and every politician & reporter who denied that truth was telling a falsehood. To make money at the expense of the facts.

    For years most Dem criticisms of Trump have been false, and the lies happen quickly – with the Truth coming out only slowly, or not at all. (What’s the truth about the Clinton Bribery Foundation?)

    Trump exaggerates – “10 million fraudulent votes”. Is that true? False? Most rational folk believe there IS some single truthful number — but none know what it is.
    More than 100.
    Probably more than 100,000.
    Probably less than 10,000,000.
    (My guess in the 200k – 900,000 range. More in 2020 with more radical and dedicated Dem criminals.)

    But to claim 0 is far less believable than 10 million — since there are known cases of folk getting arrested and admitting guilt about vote fraud.

    I’m wondering when Trump starts suing Twitter for accepting tweets that glorify violence against him, personally. Or perhaps Flynn? Or Carter Page? Or Nick Sandmann (of Covington High)?

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