Twitter on Friday added a warning label to a tweet from President Donald Trump, which the social media platform states violated its rule against glorifying violence, marking the first time such action has been taken against the president's account. Shared early Friday morning in response to the Minneapolis riots sparked by the death of George Floyd — the unarmed black who was seen on video declaring "I can't breathe" as a white police officer knelt on his neck, Trump called the protesters "thugs" and claimed he informed Minnesota's governor that the military is "with him all the way." In a controversial closing statement, the president added that "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
That concluding statement mirrored remarks from Walter E. Headley, the Miami police chief who, in the late 1960s, garnered national attention for using shotguns, dogs, and a "stop-and-frisk" policy to fight crime in the city's black neighborhoods, according to The New York Times. Announcing a "get tough" campaign in 1967, Headley said that "we haven't had any serious problems with civil uprising and looting, because I've let the word filter down that when the looting starts, the shooting starts." He added that he didn't "mind being accused of police brutality."
Twitter users didn't fail to notice the similarity between the president's tweet and Headley's remarks decades prior. CNN reports that less than three hours after the tweet was shared at 12:53 a.m. ET, Twitter took action, using a "public interest notice" to flag the president's post. In a note now attached to the tweet, the company explains that "this 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" and adds that "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 tweet is currently hidden behind that notice, though users can view the tweet by clicking "view." They will not, however, be able to reply to it or like it. The tweet can be retweeted and users can quote the tweet with a response, which many have been doing to express their upset.
The label attached to the president’s tweet came amid escalating tension between the president and social media platforms. After Twitter added a fact check to one of his tweets earlier this week which included inaccurate information regarding mail-in ballots, Trump blasted social media platforms for silencing "conservative voices" and threatened to "strongly regulate, or close them down." Just a day later, the president signed an executive order targeting social media.