Twitter’s (Perhaps Momentary) Advantage Over Trump

Trump, furious at a private company for exercising its right under the law to establish and enforce terms of service, now finds that Twitter has again placed warnings on another of his tweets, and also on his attempt to retweet that same message from the White House account.

The recent Twitter response to a Trump tweet is that Twitter hides Donald Trump tweet for ‘glorifying violence’:

The US president’s tweet, posted on Thursday night Washington time, warned people in Minneapolis protesting against the killing of a black man, George Floyd, by a white police officer that he would send the military to intervene if there was “any difficulty”.

“When the looting starts, the shooting starts,” Trump wrote, apparently quoting the former Miami police chief Walter Headley, who in December 1967 promised violent reprisals to protests over stop-and-frisk tactics.

Two hours later, Twitter added a notice to the tweet: “This tweet violated the Twitter Rules about glorifying violence. However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the tweet to remain accessible.”

The warning was accompanied by a link to its policies about public interest exceptions.

For people visiting Trump’s Twitter timeline, or seeing the tweet retweeted on their feed, the warning obscures the content unless they tap to view it.

Trump’s difficulty is that while he can issue executive orders in an attempt to chill private companies’ responses to his terms of service violations, if those companies continue to enforce their lawful service terms, then Trump looks ineffectual. Trump can rail, but Twitter can (and apparently will) continue to flag his violative content when he does so.

As Trump is an impulsive man, he’s easily provoked by the legitimate, imposed consequences of his own misdeeds (he’s never chagrinned).

Twitter has the advantage now, as it can act methodically while Trump will respond  hysterically but ineffectually.

Twitter’s advantage, however, is perhaps a momentary one. If Trump should be re-elected or refuse to leave office, then all America will face a free speech crisis.

America may find she has a far worse crisis ahead than Trump’s recent executive order. On the other side of his unjust rule Trump risks federal & state criminal actions, and civil suits from countless defrauded parties.  It grows harder each day for an authoritarian to relinquish the security of immunity in office to face the consequences of his grave offenses.

There’s reason to doubt this will end without a heavy price.

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