London: A top Twitter executive on Thursday refused to rule out suspending Donald Trump’s account if the US president continued posting incendiary messages such as those about the George Floyd protests.
Trump has relied on Twitter to get out his message without submitting himself to questions from reporters. His 81.7 million followers have made the @realDonaldTrump account one of Twitter’s 10 most popular.
But the US leader has been at war with the social media platform he uses daily since it took the unprecedented decision to fact-check two of his tweets about postal ballots last month.
Twitter followed that up Friday by covering up a message from Trump warning protesters outraged by unarmed black man Floyd’s death at police hands that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts”.
A message above that tweet warned that it “violated Twitter Rules about glorifying violence”. Viewers had to click on the message to see Trump’s original posting.
Twitter public policy strategy director Nick Pickles told a UK parliamentary hearing Thursday that the platform had decided to put Trump’s tweets to the same review process as it has for all other verified public figures.
“Whenever a tweet by any user is posted and reported to us, we consider it under our rules,” Pickles told a virtual hearing of the cross-party digital committee.
“If any user on Twitter continues to break our rules, then we will continue to have discussions about any and all avenues open to us.”
Pickles was then asked twice whether that meant Trump’s account could be suspended if he continued violating the rules.
“Every Twitter account is subject to the Twitter rules,” he said both times.
Twitter’s decision to fact-check and hide Trump’s posting has put pressure on Facebook and other social media platforms to follow suit.
Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg’s refusal to sanction false or inflammatory Trump posts sparked a virtual walkout by hundreds of the company’s employees on Monday.
Zuckerberg said in his defence that he mentioned the “inflammatory and harmful” when he fielded a call from Trump last Friday.
Youth-focused Snapchat on Wednesday accused Trump of inciting “racial violence” and warned that it would not promote that type of content.