In the past, Twitter has said that incitements to violence from world leaders like President Donald Trump should be treated differently from those made by the rest of us. This week, that policy was shown to clear effect when the social media network banned the @SuspendThePres account and ordered it to delete a tweet. Its crime? Tweeting the exact same words used by Trump a day earlier.
The experiment began on May 29 when a Twitter account was repurposed as a bot with a single mission: to copy Trump’s tweets verbatim and see how long it would take to get banned.
This account will tweet what the President tweets. Let’s see if it gets suspended for violating twitters TOS. Follow along with this social experiment. Report any tweets that violate the rules. Thank you.
— Will they suspend me? (@SuspendThePres) May 30, 2020
The next thing the account tweeted was a copy of Trump’s infamous “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” missive. When the president issued that tweet, it was, in fact, sufficient for Twitter’s moderation to kick in. Trump’s tweet is still viewable behind a “click to view” barrier. But three days after repeating that same call to shoot at protestors, @SuspendThePres got a Twitter timeout, along with an order to take down the offending message: