Twitter disabled a video this week on a post by the Trump campaign in a move that could escalate its tensions with the president, whose tweets have recently been subject to warning labels from the company. This time, however, the takedown happened for a more traditional reason.
The video in the Trump campaign tweet was a four-minute tribute to George Floyd, the black man in Minneapolis who died after a police officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes, setting off a wave of protests about police brutality and racism that has swept the nation. Twitter said it had removed the video after it received a copyright complaint.
“We respond to valid copyright complaints sent to us by a copyright owner or their authorized representatives,” a Twitter spokesperson told Recode.
The Trump campaign tweet, posted on Wednesday, now reads in place of the video: “This media has been disabled in response to a report by the copyright owner.”
We are working toward a more just society, but that means building up, not tearing down.
Joining hands, not hurling fists.
Standing in solidarity, not surrendering to hostility. pic.twitter.com/mp8957czvh
— Team Trump (Text TRUMP to 88022) (@TeamTrump) June 3, 2020
This is not the first time Twitter has removed content posted by Trump due to copyright reasons. But notably, this takedown comes shortly after a series of much more controversial decisions by Twitter to limit the reach of Trump’s posts because they either did not pass a fact-check or, in Twitter’s opinion, glorified violence.
Complaints about copyright violations are not uncommon in the world of social media. It’s not known if Twitter is treating the issue differently than other companies that also hosted the video on their platforms. The George Floyd tribute video was also uploaded to the official Donald J. Trump YouTube channel. It’s unclear if it was also posted to Facebook, but Facebook told reporters that it had not received a similar complaint. YouTube didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Nevertheless, Trump aides seized on Twitter’s decision and suggested that it further inflamed tensions between the platform and the reelection campaign.
“This incident is yet another reminder that Twitter is making up the rules as they go along,” a campaign spokesperson said. “Twitter has repeatedly failed to explain why their rules seem to only apply to the Trump campaign but not to others. Censoring out the president’s important message of unity around the George Floyd protests is an unfortunate escalation of this double standard.”
It was not stated who filed the copyright complaint. The video, called “Healing, Not Hatred” features a voiceover of Trump delivering a speech about violent protests, while a mix of both foreboding and uplifting videos, images, and scores intersperse with his remarks. Meanwhile, President Trump has been harshly criticized not only for tweeting misleading information that portrays the protests as violent but also for having enacted policies that encouraged police brutality.
Although the video in his campaign’s tweet was taken down for somewhat mundane reasons, the incident is the latest development in the president’s war with social media companies. Snap this week said it would no longer promote Trump on its Discover platform because of his rhetoric. Facebook has steadfastly declined to enforce similar policies as Twitter to limit Trump’s reach — but its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, took significant blowback from his own employees over that decision.