Facebook Account Copying Trump's Posts Word-for-Word Gets Flagged for Inciting Violence

A Facebook account copying President Donald Trump's social media posts word-for-word was flagged this week for violating rules on "violence and incitement."

The warning was received yesterday by "Will they suspend me"—a profile conducting an experiment sharing Trump's updates verbatim to see how the platform responds. It uses the handle @suspendthepres on Twitter, where the test is also ongoing.

The notice forced the deletion of a post that remained untouched on the president's own page, containing the phrase "when the looting starts, the shooting starts." It warned that the account would face a 24-hour suspension if it broke the policies again.

"Facebook took almost exactly a week but they just issued their first warning. Forced deletion of content," the account holder wrote Thursday, as Vice first reported.

"Your post goes against our Community Standards on violence and incitement. We use the same Community Standards around the world for everyone," the message from the social network said, revealing that the offending post had reached 26 people.

The post by President Trump, published on May 29, was widely criticized for appearing to incite state violence against masses of protesters taking to the streets following the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis just four days prior.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said last week a review of the post found it didn't meet the criteria for incitement of violence—fueling rare public criticism from employees.

Experiment Update - Facebook took almost exactly a week but they just issued their first warning. Forced deletion of...

Posted by Will they suspend me? on Thursday, June 11, 2020

The person behind the experiment said the Trump-copying post was reinstated later Thursday, with a short apology for the inconvenience, but little explanation.

"Facebook just restored the content without further explanation. Double checked the page and the post is indeed back... interesting," the account holder wrote.

A Facebook spokesperson told Vice that it had been removed in error, without clarifying. The original notice said such decisions are made by "technology or a review team" but it is not yet known if a human or algorithm took issue with the experiment's posts.

The social network has been contacted for additional clarification by Newsweek.

Experiment Update - Facebook just restored the content without further explanation. Double checked the page and the post is indeed back live on the page. Interesting.

Posted by Will they suspend me? on Thursday, June 11, 2020

Twitter previously flagged and hid President Trump's comments for "glorifying violence," but the @SuspendthePres handle was reprimanded within three days of posting the same words to the platform last week, being locked until the tweet was deleted.

Unlike Facebook, however, updates from elected and government officials are protected under Twitter's current policies due to their "significant public interest."

"In rare instances, we may choose to leave up a tweet from an elected or government official that would otherwise be taken down. Instead we will place it behind a notice providing context about the rule violation that allows people to click through to see the tweet," the company says, partially explaining its reasons for the disparity.

Facebook employee revolt over Trump's post surged last week, with some staff holding a "virtual walkout" while others resigned from their positions over its handling.

"Facebook will keep moving the goalposts every time Trump escalates, finding excuse after excuse not to act on increasingly dangerous rhetoric," said 22-year-old software engineer Timothy Aveni, who shared his reasons for leaving on Facebook.

Last week, a letter signed by 33 early Facebook staffers argued in favor of labeling Trump's post, saying not doing so would be a "betrayal" of the platform's ideals.

"In an age of live-streamed shootings, Facebook should know the danger of this better than most. Trump's rhetoric, steeped in history of American racism, targeted people whom Facebook would not allow to repeat his words back to him," it read.

In a post on his personal account last Friday, Zuckerberg said the platform would review its policies about "discussion and threats of state use of force."

He wrote: "I know many of you think we should have labeled the President's posts in some way last week. Our current policy is that if content is actually inciting violence, the right mitigation is to take that content down—not let people continue seeing it behind a flag. There is no exception to this policy for politicians or newsworthiness."

The person behind the ongoing social experiment active on Twitter under the handle @BizarreLazer, although their real identity remains anonymous.

Referencing the flip-flopping response about the post from Facebook this week, the creator wrote: "Facebook backpedaled faster than Trump claiming to support civil rights while simultaneously planning his comeback tour in Tulsa on Juneteenth."

Donald Trump tweet
In this photo illustration a notification from Twitter appears on tweet by U.S. President Donald Trump that the social media platform says violated its policy on May 29, 2020 in San Anselmo, California. Justin Sullivan/Getty