Did President Trump Break Twitter Policy With Wrestling Tweet?

POTUS’ shot at CNN had users wondering if he’d violated the platform’s rules against “promoting violence”

Last Updated: July 3, 2017 @ 11:44 AM

President Donald Trump once again provided the fireworks this holiday weekend, taking his feud with CNN to WWE-levels after tweeting out a clip of him body-slamming the news network to the ground.

And much like his “Lyin” Ted Cruz and “Crooked” Hillary Clinton digs, Trump added his patented linguistic ingenuity, with the hashtags #FraudNewsCNN and #FNN accompanying his tweet.

The President’s latest bout with CNN stems from the network’s retraction of a story that linked a Russian bank to one of his cronies. Three CNN reporters resigned following the retraction.

And now, many of the platform’s users are calling on Twitter to suspend Trump’s account for violating company policy. Specifically, his wrestling video was seen as a breach of Twitter’s policy against “making threats of violence or promoting violence.”

CNN political commentator Ana Navarro took it one step further, saying Trump’s tweet was an “incitement to violence” and could “get someone killed in the media.”

To many, Trump’s tweet broke Twitter’s rules against “violent threats” and “harassment,” as outlined here:

  • Violent threats (direct or indirect): You may not make threats of violence or promote violence, including threatening or promoting terrorism.
  • Harassment: You may not incite or engage in the targeted abuse or harassment of others. Some of the factors that we may consider when evaluating abusive behavior include:
    • if a primary purpose of the reported account is to harass or send abusive messages to others;
    • if the reported behavior is one-sided or includes threats;
    • if the reported account is inciting others to harass another account; and
    • if the reported account is sending harassing messages to an account from multiple accounts.

A Twitter spokesperson declined to tell TheWrap if Trump’s account would be suspended. “We don’t comment on individual accounts, for privacy and security reasons,” said the spokesperson.

Seth Abramson, an attorney and University of New Hampshire professor, has been at the forefront of those calling for Twitter to take action against Trump. He told TheWrap Twitter could be taking it easy on the President because of the attention he brings the platform.

“There is no arguable justification for Twitter issuing no punitive measures whatsoever against Trump’s account,” said Abramson. “The company’s inaction suggests to many a financial motive to treat the account unlike any other: first, Trump brings users to the platform; second, his followers might abandon the platform were he in any way curtailed in his social media use. The problem is that Trump’s position as a national leader with a massive following makes him more, rather than less likely to come into conflict with Twitter’s [terms of service].”

Following the President’s tweet, a cascade of posts calling for Twitter to suspend his account flooded the social network.

But there are a few reasons why those looking to have Trump booted from his favorite app shouldn’t hold their breath.

For starters, it’s a wrestling video — something anyone above the age of 10 knows is a charade. There’s an inherent stupidity in a clip of Trump knocking down the network (and not to mention, the fact the president would tweet the video at all). Expecting it to be treated as an actual “violent threat” is a stretch.

At the same time, Twitter has been capricious in its enforcement of its own policies. Right-wing political agitator Milo Yiannopoulos was notoriously banned from the platform last year after several of his followers went after actress Leslie Jones. Still, with trolling still rampant on its platform, it was seen by some as an arbitrary crackdown.

Twitter has taken measures to be more vigilant in going after users in violation of its policies recently, with nearly 400,000 accounts suspended for promoting terrorism. But a quick use of Twitter’s search bar will reveal how far the company is from eradicating “violent threats” and “harassment.” Based on precedent, anticipating a Trump suspension isn’t a sound bet.