If you open up Twitter, search the word “racist,” and then select the “people” tab, President Donald Trump’s Twitter account tops the list.
Users began noticing the issue on Friday. As of this writing, the search results remain the same.
CNET spoke to a Twitter spokeswoman, who said the results come from the platform’s algorithm. If enough people mention an account and include the word “racist,” the account will appear in searches for that word, meaning users can flood particular accounts with negative terms to lock in a certain narrative.
Other accounts that show up in the search below Trump include so-called anti-racism fighters, who have put slogans against racism in their Twitter names or bios.
Trump has had a tumultuous relationship with Twitter during his presidency. The platform refuses to adhere to mob demands to ban the president’s account or heavily censor him, but the company has started placing “fact checks” and warnings on his tweets, something it doesn’t do for people on the Left.
On Thursday night, Trump tweeted that those rioting in Minneapolis – destroying businesses and setting fires – were “dishonoring the memory of George Floyd,” a man who died in a police-related incident on May 25th and whose death has sparked protests and riots across the country. Trump also said in his tweet that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” a clumsy phrase referring to the violence that inevitably follows looting.
Twitter censored Trump’s tweet, claiming it was “glorifying violence,” The Daily Wire’s Ryan Saavedra previously reported. When someone view’s Trump’s tweet on Twitter, a warning message appears that says, “This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules about glorifying violence. However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain accessible.” Users can click “view” to remove the warning and see the tweet.
A Twitter spokesman said in a statement: “This Tweet violates our policies regarding the glorification of violence based on the historical context of the last line, its connection to violence, and the risk it could inspire similar actions today.”
“We’ve taken action in the interest of preventing others from being inspired to commit violent acts, but have kept the Tweet on Twitter because it is important that the public still be able to see the Tweet given its relevance to ongoing matters of public importance,” Twitter added. “As is standard with this notice, engagements with the Tweet will be limited. People will be able to Retweet with Comment, but will not be able to Like, Reply or Retweet it.”
The censorship occurred after Trump signed an executive order against social media bias.
“A small handful of powerful social media monopolies controls a vast portion of all public and private communications in the United States, and we know what they are,” Trump told reporters when he signed the executive order.
“They’ve had unchecked power to censor, restrict, edit, shape, hide, alter virtually any form of communication between private citizens or large public audiences,” the president continued. “There’s no precedent in American history for so small a number of corporations to control so large a sphere of human interaction, and that includes individual people controlling vast amounts of territory, and we can’t allow that to happen, especially when they go about doing what they’re doing, because they’re doing things incorrectly.”
The Twitter search calls to mind an incident in the early years of Google, under the George W. Bush administration, where users could search the word “failure,” select “I’m feeling lucky,” and a biography of Bush would appear as the search result.
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