(Getty/Mark Wilson)

Hey @jack: Trump's "Button" tweet violates Twitter's TOS

Threatening nuclear war should be activity a social media platform refuses to promote


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D. Watkins
January 3, 2018 1:47PM (UTC)

It’s only a few days into 2018 and Donald Trump has already ruined it. On Tuesday, the president threw a jab at North Korea leader Kim Jong-un in a tweet that boasted of the President's access to "a Nuclear Button" which he claimed as "much bigger & more powerful" than North Korea's:

“North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the 'Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.' Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”

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Trump's tweet was a reaction to the North Korean leader's New Year’s Day speech, in which he said he had "a nuclear button on the desk in my office" and that "all of the mainland United States is within the range of our nuclear strike.”

These two have thrown jabs at each other in past, including this round of name-calling from Trump:

This has gotten completely out of hand, and it's time for Twitter to step in and do something.

Last week, the platform suspended former Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, an outspoken Trump ally, for tweeting a broad encouragement of violence against journalists. Clarke wrote:

When LYING LIB MEDIA makes up FAKE NEWS to smear me, the ANTIDOTE is to go right at them. Punch them in the nose & MAKE THEM TASTE THEIR OWN BLOOD. Nothing gets a bully like LYING LIB MEDIA'S attention better than to give them a taste of their own blood #neverbackdown.

The tweet has since been deleted, and Clarke's posting privileges have been reinstated. But Trump, whose tweet last night arguably carries a much larger threat of violence, has faced no penalties yet. We aren’t talking about a washed up ex-cop that no one cares about­. This is the president of the United States putting billions of people at risk by broadcasting what can be read as a petty act of nuclear brinkmanship on Twitter.

The violence section of Twitter’s Rules clearly states,

You may not make specific threats of violence or wish for the serious physical harm, death, or disease of an individual or group of people. This includes, but is not limited to, threatening or promoting terrorism. You also may not affiliate with organizations that — whether by their own statements or activity both on and off the platform — use or promote violence against civilians to further their causes. We will begin enforcing this rule around affiliation with such organizations on December 18, 2017.

Donald Trump has clearly violated this rule, and as we saw in the case of Clarke, Twitter has suspended users for arguably lesser infractions of this rule, as well as others. In October, actor and outspoken #MeToo advocate Rose McGowan was temporarily suspended because an image she tweeted included an individual's phone number. Her first tweet back was a shot at Twitter's inaction on Trump's nuclear posturing:

Trump's popularity on the platform, both positive and negative, is probably great for Twitter. But don’t shareholders have to be alive to reap the benefits? Because we could all be doomed if he continues to share his half-baked ideas in the same reckless manner.

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After Trump's button tweet, an organized group of protestors, Resistance SF, called out Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey for the company's inaction, projecting the message "@jack is #complicit" onto the front of Twitter headquarters in San Francisco. In a Facebook post, the group charged that "‪@jack breaks the rules of his own company, Twitter, to amplify a madman and endanger the world," calling on Dorsey to ban the President or resign, himself.

@Jack, it's time to suspend Trump's account so that we can make it to 2019.


D. Watkins

D. Watkins is an Editor at Large for Salon. He is also a professor at the University of Baltimore and founder of the BMORE Writers Project. Watkins is the author of the New York Times best-sellers “The Beast Side: Living  (and Dying) While Black in America” and "The Cook Up: A Crack Rock Memoir."

MORE FROM D. WatkinsFOLLOW @dwatkinsworld

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