Snapchat Stops Promoting President Trump’s Account

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The takeaways

  • Snapchat joins Twitter in no longer highlighting content from the President’s account, basing its decision on the tweets themselves.

  • Snapchat chief executive Evan Spiegel issues staff memo decrying racist behavior and accounts that promote racial violence.

  • Decision comes as increasing tensions surround the relationships between the Trump administration and social media platforms.

What happened?

In response to recent tweets by President Donald Trump declaring violence on anti-racism protestors should their demonstrations escalate, Snapchat announced that it will no longer promote the President’s account in its app’s Discover feature, which curates featured content. The declaration follows Twitter’s decision to add tags to certain tweets by the President that it found in breach of its rules governing anti-violence and fact-checking. Trump decried this action as an active suppression of, and an expression of widespread social media bias against, conservative viewpoints. He subsequently signed an executive order reducing legal protections currently afforded to social media companies.

Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel released a memo to staff on May 31st, condemning racism and anti-black violence. Spiegel wrote that “[Snapchat] simply cannot promote accounts in America that are linked to people who incite racial violence, whether they do so on or off our platform” and later states that “This does not mean that we will remove content that people disagree with, or accounts that are insensitive to some people.” His latter remarks were upheld in a recent public statement defending Snapchat’s decision regarding Trump’s account as refusing it “free promotion” on Discover to “incite racial violence and injustice.”

“Suppressed” Trump vs. “Radical” Snapchat

Yesterday, Trump’s 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale directly accused the company of attempting to rig this year’s election through voter suppression. The statement claims an illegal use of funds by Snapchat to promote presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden while suppressing Trump, and labels Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel a “radical” who “would rather promote extreme left riot videos and encourage their users to destroy America than share the positive words of unity, justice, and law and order from our President.”  

Snapchat and Twitter’s stances come as Facebook and its chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, face increasing calls from critics, including civil rights leaders and Facebook employees, for not taking similar action against Trump’s posts on their platform and continuing to host them despite a backlash. Both Twitter and Facebook have removed posts in line with anti-violence policies, but the latter’s position is perceived as increasingly untenable against the actions of the former, as well as Snapchat.

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