Twitter has threatened to suspend accounts using the social media platform to wish for President Donald Trump’s death following his diagnosis with COVID-19.
As Trump, 74, was being transferred to Walter Reed medical center for treatment on Friday, many people took to Twitter to express their opinions on the news.
While many wished the president a speedy recovery, some tweeted they hoped he dies from the virus, which has killed more than 210,000 Americans under his leadership.
Trump, who had spent months defying science and downplaying the threat of the virus, announced Friday that he and his wife, Melania Trump, had tested positive for the coronavirus.
Trump is medically vulnerable due to his age and obesity.
Twitter said in a statement on Friday that wishing for Trump’s death violated the company’s “Abusive Behavior policy,” which prohibits tweets “wishing or hoping serious harm on a person or group of people.”
“Content that wishes, hopes or expresses a desire for death, serious bodily harm or fatal disease against an individual is against our rules,” the statement read.
A spokesperson from the social media giant told Motherboard it was suspending some users.
“We’re prioritizing the removal of content when it has a clear call to action that could potentially cause real-world harm,” the spokesperson told the publication.
The rule refresher created a backlash on Twitter.
See, I’d be fine with the rule if they applied it equally to those wishing death on anyone. Seems a little unfair when the person twitter is shielding is doing the same and inciting violence constantly.— ⚖️Lee (@leecrough) October 2, 2020
Condemning the move as hypocritical, many users claimed they have received death threats on the platform with little response from Twitter.
Okay. But why hasn't Twitter suspended Trump's account when he's threatened the death of millions of people through war? Most accounts on here are just powerless people venting their frustration with a rigged system. Trump, however, could actually kill us, but Twitter ignores it— Vote for Sanity in 2020 (@blueingreenemo) October 2, 2020
“The decision to suddenly enforce this policy underscores that centralizing content moderation decisions with Big Tech monopolies will always protect the powerful and silence the marginalized,” said Evan Greer, a spokesperson for the digital rights organization Fight For the Future.
Other users were quick to improvise, using censored versions of the sentiment in order to avoid being suspended.
Facebook has slightly different rules for sentiment that is focused on public figures. Users can wish someone’s death as long as that person is a public figure and they are not tagged in the post.