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Elon Musk could soon have a Trump-sized headache


“Musk is discovering all the questions that thousands of people at lots of different platforms have been wrestling with for decades,” stated Joshua Tucker, a co-director of the NYU Center for Social Media and Politics. “You can already see Musk in his own statements waffling around. First — ‘It’s gonna be a free speech platform,’ to ‘Maybe tweets could be made invisible,’ to ‘Maybe they could be removed,’ to ‘Maybe people could be temporarily suspended.’”

For years, Trump used his favourite social media megaphone to insult his opponents, hurl racially or ethnically tinged rhetoric, unfold misinformation about subjects like elections and public health, and threaten violence towards targets similar to civil rights protesters and North Korea. That was lengthy earlier than Twitter booted him following his reward of the rioters who attacked the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

People who’ve adopted his lengthy Twitter profession don’t anticipate him to alter if he returns to the positioning.

“I wish we saw a new Trump who actually learned from his actions. But I feel like these limitations that have happened have almost emboldened him to do more of the same,” stated Laura Manley, the manager director of Harvard University’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy. “When he’s coming on as a guest on talk shows, or anytime he has the microphone, he is still talking about how the election was rigged.”

Trump has stated he doesn’t even wish to rejoin Twitter, the place he had almost 89 million followers. (He has a reported 2.7 million followers on his newly created social community, Truth Social.) But he may simply change his thoughts.

So it’s a superb event to revisit a few of Trump’s most infamous, rule-breaking or controversial tweets — a potential style of what may lie within the community’s future:

Pushing the envelope, with impunity

Some Trump critics had been urging Twitter to kick him off even before he was sworn in, citing his use of the platform to denigrate individuals who opposed him and make baseless claims of fraud within the 2016 election.

Calls for the corporate to self-discipline Trump solely elevated as soon as he grew to become president — at the same time as Twitter stated his early posts didn’t violate its insurance policies towards harassment, racist or xenophobic rhetoric or threats of violence.

One early flashpoint: the manager order Trump issued per week into his presidency banning vacationers and refugees from a number of Muslim-majority international locations. He accompanied the motion — and defended its sudden unveiling — with tweets that described Muslim immigrants “as a lot of bad ‘dudes’” and “bad people (with bad intentions).”

Trump’s tweets about North Korea’s nuclear program provoked much more alarm — together with a September 2017 submit, warning that chief Kim Jong-Un and his regime “won’t be around much longer,” that the nation’s overseas minister labeled a “clear declaration of war.”

Twitter publicly declined to take down that tweet, citing the “newsworthiness” of Trump’s remarks. And the president stored at it, as an example with a jibe at Kim in January 2018 boasting that Trump’s “Nuclear Button” is “a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!” Twitter additionally let that one stay up.

In one other sequence of tweets from July 2019 aimed toward 4 Democratic lawmakers who’re ladies of coloration — Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), Rashida Tlaib (Mich.), Ayanna Pressley (Mass.) and Ilhan Omar (Minn.). Trump known as for them to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.” All the lawmakers had been born within the U.S. except for Omar, who had been born in Somalia however emigrated to the U.S. within the Nineteen Nineties.

Twitter didn’t take motion on these tweets.

Twitter additionally didn’t act on an August 2018 tweet by which Trump described former White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman as “that dog,” upsetting a new round of outrage on the insults he leveled at Black Americans who had criticized him.

Still, Twitter’s leaders warned that they may boot Trump if his tweets went too far over the road. The platform’s allowance for newsworthiness “is not a blanket exception for the president or anyone else,” the corporate’s authorized and coverage chief, Vijaya Gadde, told POLITICO in an interview in September 2018.

The following yr, the corporate introduced a coverage change that might enable it to take punitive motion towards world leaders who violate its guidelines — a transfer that many on the time noticed as a response to Trump’s incendiary posts. Twitter stated it will proceed to go away offending posts up within the title of newsworthiness, however in some circumstances would append warning labels or restrict the tweet’s unfold.

The George Floyd protests

Twitter’s crackdown started within the spring of 2020, as Trump lashed again on the racial-justice protests that sprang up following the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer.

In a tweet on May 29, Trump known as protesters in Minneapolis “THUGS” and appeared to threaten violence towards the protesters, saying that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”

Twitter added a public interest notice to the tweet, saying it “violates our policies regarding the glorification of violence” and barred people from retweeting it — however solely after it had been shared greater than 23,000 occasions. The firm stated it allowed the tweet to remain up due to its “relevance to ongoing matters of public importance.”

Twitter took related motion on a tweet May 30 by which Trump threatened that protesters could be “greeted with the most vicious dogs, and most ominous weapons” in the event that they breached the White House fence. Twitter additionally labeled that tweet as glorifying violence.

Covid-19 misinformation

Twitter flagged quite a few Trump tweets for violating its insurance policies by spreading false details about Covid-19. In one tweet on Oct. 11, 2020, after he recovered from Covid, Trump claimed he was now immune from the virus — a press release Twitter known as deceptive and probably dangerous, as a result of even individuals who have been contaminated can nonetheless get the illness a number of occasions and nonetheless unfold it.

The 2020 presidential election

Trump had spent years making false statements concerning the 2016 presidential election that put him within the White House — for instance, tweeting that he had “won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.” (No proof helps that declare.)

Twitter stepped in when Trump started warning that large fraud would mar the 2020 presidential contest.

In May 2020, the corporate added fact-checking warnings to his tweets for the primary time, flagging two posts by which he baselessly claimed that mail-in ballots had been more likely to be “substantially fraudulent.” Trump responded by issuing an executive order calling on federal regulators to roll again authorized protections for social media platforms that limit their customers’ speech.

Twitter additional expanded its election misinformation and civic integrity insurance policies in September 2020, saying it will label or take away “false or misleading information that could undermine public confidence in an election or other civic process.”

Trump continued to be a repeat offender.

Twitter slapped fact-check labels on Trump tweets the day after the November 2020 election, saying he had violated its insurance policies by falsely alleging that “surprise ballot dumps” had altered the outcomes.

Twitter additionally labeled different tweets by which Trump alleged that Democrats had been making an attempt to “STEAL the Election.” But Trump continued claiming election fraud and calling for the outcomes to be overturned in the course of the subsequent two months.

Violence on Jan. 6

The finish got here quickly after Jan. 6, 2021, the day Congress was attributable to certify Joe Biden’s victory — at the same time as Trump continued utilizing Twitter to induce Vice President Mike Pence to intercede.

As a throng of Trump supporters started rampaging by means of the Capitol, battling law enforcement officials and calling to “hang Mike Pence” as a method to cease the election certification, the president put out a sequence of posts that Twitter flagged for violating its election and civic integrity insurance policies. Those included one by which he stated Pence “didn’t have the courage” to reject the election outcomes — one thing a number of authorized students, and Pence himself, say he didn’t have the ability to do.

Twitter eliminated a later tweet by which Trump appeared to justify the lethal assault and informed the rioters to “Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!”

Two days later, Twitter stated it had sufficient.

On Jan. 8, Trump posted a tweet saying that “American Patriots” who voted for him “will not be disrespected or treated unfairly in any way, shape or form!!!” And later in the day he tweeted: “To all of those who have asked, I will not be going to the Inauguration on January 20th.”

Twitter didn’t initially label or take away these two tweets. But afterward Jan. 8, Twitter stated they had been the explanations that it ultimately booted Trump — completely suspending his private account, @ActualDonaldTrump.

“These two Tweets must be read in the context of broader events in the country and the ways in which the President’s statements can be mobilized by different audiences, including to incite violence,” the corporate stated in a blog post explaining its permanent suspension of Trump’s account. Twitter additionally completely suspended the Trump marketing campaign’s account, and eliminated offending tweets from the White House’s official @POTUS account, the place Trump had vowed that “We will not be SILENCED!”

Days later, Facebook and Google-owned YouTube adopted go well with with related bans — though theirs are usually not everlasting.

Musk’s dilemma

Nearly a yr and a half later, Twitter seems more likely to be the primary platform to roll out its welcome mat for Trump as soon as once more. Ousting Trump was “morally bad” and “foolish in the extreme,” Musk stated this week.

Either method Musk decides on any posts by Trump, it’s doubtless to attract scrutiny from Congress. Plenty of Democratic lawmakers are already calling for hearings to look at Musk’s plans for the corporate. And Republicans — who’re cheering the Musk takeover — may simply as simply turn out to be his new enemy if he lets Trump again on solely to then curtail his posts.

“Anyone who tells you where this is going to land doesn’t know the answer to that question,” stated Tucker, of NYU. “We really don’t.”





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