Twitter Blocks Users From Liking and Sharing Trump's Tweet on George Floyd Protesters, Says It Glorifies Violence

Twitter has restricted a tweet from President Donald Trump, accusing the president of violating the company's rules regarding "glorifying violence" after he appeared to threaten protesters demanding justice over the death of George Floyd.

Trump hit out at protesters early Friday morning, writing: "These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won't let that happen."

"Just spoke to [Minnesota] Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way," Trump wrote. "Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts."

....These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen. Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 29, 2020

Just over an hour later, Twitter had added a warning to the tweet, asserting that it directly violated the social media platform's "rules about glorifying violence."

It also blocked users from being able to like, reply to or share Trump's tweet.

Twitter did not remove the post, however, asserting that it had "determined that it may be in the public's interest for the Tweet to remain accessible."

In a statement to Newsweek, a Twitter spokesperson said Trump's tweet violated the company's "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," the spokesperson said.

"As is standard with this notice, engagements with the Tweet will be limited," they said. "People will be able to Retweet with Comment, but will not be able to Like, Reply or Retweet it."

The spokesperson confirmed that this was the first instance of the company placing a public interest notice on a tweet from Trump.

If a tweet from any world leader violates Twitter's rules, but there is is a clear public interest value to keeping the tweet online, the company said it would use the notice as part of a policy announced in June 2019.

Shortly after Trump's tweet was restricted, the White House retweeted the post, sharing its contents in an independent tweet.

The president's original post, "when the looting starts, the shooting starts," appeared to invoke the words of the late Miami Police Chief Walter Headley, who issued the same warning during a press conference December 1967 amid backlash to his "stop and frisk" policies.

According to past reporting from The Washington Post, the National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence, a federal task force, would later cite Headley's conference as having incited outrage, with protests unfolding across Miami during the 1968 Republican National Convention.

In his Twitter message condemning protests demanding justice over the death of George Floyd, Trump said: "I can't stand back & watch this happen to a great American City, Minneapolis."

The president blamed the protests on "a total lack of leadership" from Democratic Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey.

Frey urged calm as riots unfolded across the city in the wake of Floyd's death.

Floyd died after a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, was filmed kneeling on his neck for at least eight minutes, despite the man already being handcuffed and warning repeatedly that he could not breathe.

Floyd had been arrested after being reported for allegedly using a fake $20 note in a shop.

Four officers, including Chauvin, have been released from duty in the wake of the incident. However, many, including high-profile politicians, such as Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar, have demanded that murder charges be laid against Chauvin.

On Thursday, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said his office was still reviewing the evidence and would not "rush to justice" in the case.

This article has been updated with statements from Twitter and more details on the Twitter incident.

Donald Trump
President Donald Trump receives a briefing on the 2020 hurricane season in the Oval Office May 28, 2020 in Washington, D.C. Twitter has said the president violated its rules with a tweet about George Floyd protesters. Doug MIlls-Pool/Getty