A video posted by Donald Trump's 2020 election campaign -- decrying civil unrest in the wake of the killing of George Floyd -- has been removed by Twitter, citing a copyright-infringement claim.
A June 3 tweet by the @TeamTrump account with the video now displays the message: "This media has been disabled in response to a report by the copyright owner." Twitter confirmed it received a DMCA takedown request from the owner of one of the images included in the video but the company did not specify who that was.
The 3:45-minute video comprises a clip of a Trump speech in which he says Floyd's death was a "grave tragedy" that "should never have happened." The campaign video includes numerous images and video clips, showing memorials to Floyd and crowds of protesters, as well as rioters committing acts of vandalism. "The memory of George Floyd is being dishonoured by rioters, looters and anarchists," Trump says.
Trump on Friday evening posted a link to an article characterising his campaign's copyright-infringing video as "showing empathy for peaceful protesters," and the president accused Twitter of "fighting hard for the Radical Left Democrats. A one sided battle. Illegal. Section 230!"
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey responded to Trump, "Not true and not illegal. This was pulled because we got a DMCA complaint from copyright holder."
Twitter increasingly has been in Trump's crosshairs after the social network last week applied fact-check labels to his inaccurate tweets about mail-in voting -- and then hid another Trump tweet suggesting Minneapolis protesters would be shot. Trump, upset over Twitter's fact-checking action, issued an executive order aiming to remove Twitter's legal protections for speech on its platform. That that prompted a lawsuit from a tech policy organisation charging that Trump's order violates the First Amendment.
Meanwhile, Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg faces a backlash from employees for deciding to take no action on the same Trump posts. This week, Snap said it would no longer promote Trump's Snapchat posts, with the company citing his rhetoric "incit[ing] racial violence and injustice."
Twitter's current policies carve out an exemption for political figures like Trump, under which tweets that would be violations for regular users may be left up if the company considers them to be in the "public interest." Twitter amended that a year ago, saying that tweets by political figures that violate its regular policies would be displayed with a warning notice in front of tweets.
The first time Twitter applied that to one of Trump's tweets was on the May 29 post in which the president said about protests in Minneapolis, "Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!"
Australian Associated Press