Twitter restricted the viewing of a tweet posted by Republican Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz on Tuesday as the U.S. faced growing protests and civil unrest sparked by the death last week of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis.
The close ally of Donald Trump asked in his tweet if it would be appropriate to take out anti-fascist activists in the U.S. in the same way that it would tackle terrorists abroad, tweeting to his half-a-million followers: “Now that we clearly see Antifa as terrorists, can we hunt them down like we do those in the Middle East?”
Twitter quickly hid the post behind the message: “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.”
To read the tweet, users now have to tap on the “view” button next to Twitter’s notice. However, the restriction means that the comment cannot be liked, retweeted, or commented upon by other users.
Gaetz later doubled down on his controversial tweet, using the platform to argue his point in response to others criticizing his comments.
Confirming its decision to restrict the viewing of Gaetz’s tweet, a Twitter spokesperson told Digital Trends: “We have placed a public interest notice on this Tweet from @mattgaetz. The Tweet is in violation of our glorification of violence policy.”
The move by the social media company follows similar action taken last week when moderators flagged a tweet from President Trump that included the comment, “When the looting starts, the shooting starts.”
The decision incensed Trump, who has since threatened to take action against social media companies by making them liable for content posted onto their platforms. There was further controversy when Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the same message would remain visible on his platform, arguing that a later clarification by the president meant the post did not ultimately violate Facebook’s community guidelines. Some Facebook employees have since criticized Zuckerberg’s standpoint.
While protests continue across the U.S. in response to Floyd’s death, President Trump has been posting a number of tweets suggesting “anarchists” and “Antifa” have a hand in the demonstrations.
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