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Twitter Put A "Glorifying Violence" Warning Label On Trump And White House Tweets About Minneapolis Protesters

“We've taken action in the interest of preventing others from being inspired to commit violent acts," the social media network said of Trump's tweet.

Posted on May 29, 2020, at 4:24 a.m. ET

Pool / Getty Images

Twitter put a warning label on a tweet by President Donald Trump about the Minneapolis protests early on Friday, saying that it violated the company’s rules about "glorifying violence."

The social network did not remove the tweet, instead letting users click on a link next to the label to view it.

The tweet, the second in a two-part thread from the president, said that during the protests sparked by the death of George Floyd, "when the looting starts, the shooting starts."

Floyd’s death, which came after a police officer crushed his neck under his knee while arresting him, has led to violent protests in Minneapolis this week. On Thursday night, protesters clashed with officers in the area and set a police building on fire.

The phrase "when the looting starts, the shooting starts" has a history. In 1967, Miami Police Chief Walter Headley used it to describe his approach to protests in black neighborhoods.

“When the looting starts, the shooting starts,” is a threat coined by Miami Police Chief Walter Headley, who promised violent reprisals on black protesters in 1967. He also said: “We don’t mind being accused of police brutality. They haven’t seen anything yet.”


Twitter’s decision came after it took similar action earlier this week, labeling a Trump tweet about mail-in ballots as misleading. That decision infuriated the White House, leading the president to sign an executive order on Thursday targeting social media platforms.

But Twitter doubled down Friday with its "glorifying violence" label, which it added more than two hours after Trump sent the tweet. Users will be unable to like, reply to, or retweet the tweet, although retweets with a comment are still possible.

“You may not threaten violence against an individual or a group of people,” Twitter rules state. “We also prohibit the glorification of violence.” The rules were updated in March 2019.

In a Twitter thread on the company’s public relations account, Twitter defended the move.

“We've taken action in the interest of preventing others from being inspired to commit violent acts, but have kept the Tweet on Twitter because it is important that the public still be able to see the Tweet given its relevance to ongoing matters of public importance,” the company said.

While Twitter typically forces users to remove or delete tweets glorifying violence, it has said in the past that there is a higher standard for world leaders. Trump has previously used his Twitter account, which has more than 80 million followers, to flirt with the idea of nuclear war. Twitter did not take action against those messages.

Despite Twitter's action on Trump's timeline, the official White House Twitter account quote-tweeted Trump's original post with the same text on Friday morning. Twitter subsequently put the same warning label on the White House's tweet as well.

Twitter / Via Twitter: @whitehouse

"We have placed a public interest notice on this Tweet from @realdonaldtrump and an identical Tweet from @WhiteHouse," a Twitter spokesperson told BuzzFeed News on Friday. "The Tweets violate 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. We've taken action in the interest of preventing others from being inspired to commit violent acts, but have kept the Tweet on Twitter because it is important that the public still be able to see the Tweet given its relevance to ongoing matters of public importance. As is standard with this notice, engagements with the Tweet will be limited. People will be able to Retweet with Comment, but will not be able to Like, Reply or Retweet it."

In a response, the White House tweeted that the company's actions made it clear that it was a "publisher" and not a "platform."

The President did not glorify violence. He clearly condemned it. @Jack and Twitter's biased, bad-faith "fact-checkers" have made it clear: Twitter is a publisher, not a platform.

Twitter / Via Twitter: @WhiteHouse

On Thursday, when BuzzFeed News asked the White House for comment about the president's sharing of a video in which a man said, "The only good Democrat is a dead Democrat," a spokesperson said it condemned "all violence."

"The President and the entire administration condemn violence in all forms, as we have stated many times," White House spokesperson Judd Deere said.


This story was updated to include the tweet from the White House responding to the warning label that Twitter slapped on its original tweet.


This story was updated with the White House's tweet that Twitter put a warning label on, as well as a comment from Twitter.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.