But for our interests here, the day’s biggest development was that Twitter took an action some of us thought it might never: hiding one of President Trump’s tweets behind an interstitial. And then, once it was posted to the official White House account, putting that behind an interstitial, too
. Here’s Jon Porter in The Verge
Twitter has placed a public interest notice on a tweet
from President Trump for breaking the platform’s rules about the “glorification of violence.” However, Twitter has not chosen to remove the tweet from its platform entirely, because it believes it to be in the public interest. Twitter announced the notice in a tweet thread from its official comms account
The notice means that the tweet is hidden from Trump’s timeline, but is accessible if you visit the tweet directly after clicking a “view” button. The reach of the tweet will also be limited as part of the process. Although users can still retweet it with a comment, they cannot reply to it, retweet it directly, or like it. Twitter also says that its notice means that the tweet won’t be algorithmically recommended on its platform.
The tweet in question used the truly disturbing phrase, “when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” and ended with an incongruous “Thank you!”
“The phrase ‘when the looting starts, the shooting starts,’ has a history,” Pranav Dixit writes in BuzzFeed
. “In 1967, Miami Police Chief Walter Headley used
it to describe his approach to protests in black neighborhoods.” The current protests originated after yet more incidents of police violence against black people.
“I have to say I am finding the contortions we have to go through incredibly hard to stomach,” one employee wrote in a comment about the shooting post. “All this points to a very high risk of a violent escalation and civil unrest in November and if we fail the test case here, history will not judge us kindly.” […]
Monika Bickert, the company’s vice president of global policy management, wrote a lengthy post on Workplace, the company’s internal version of Facebook, laying out the company’s rationale for not taking action on the mail-in ballot post.
“We reviewed the claim and determined that it doesn’t break our rules against voter interference because it doesn’t mislead people about how they can register to vote or the different ways they can vote,” Bickert wrote Thursday in a post that received more than 700 comment. “If it had, we should have removed the post from our platform altogether because our voter interference policy applies to everyone, including politicians.”
There’s a lot more in here, and I hope you’ll give the full piece a read
and let me know what you think. Facebook has yet to comment, though Mark Zuckerberg planned to address employees later this afternoon, I’m told.
But I’ve already heard back from some employees who think I didn’t present the full range of the debate. “Within my circle people either don’t care or support our position,” one person told me. “This is just using cherry picked comments from a post to promote your narrative.”
The posts I saw ranged from nervous to critical of the company’s silence to date, but I admittedly saw just a fraction of the hundreds of comments Bickert’s post has generated. I’m open to hearing other perspectives, as I told that employee, and please get in touch if you work at the company and have one.
Between the pandemic, near-record unemployment, and a fraught general election, fears that incitements to violence on Facebook could lead to real-world bloodshed have possibly never been so justified. And if Facebook posts by an elected official do spur their followers to commit acts of violence, the important thing to remember is it would not be the first time