Donald Trump Jr has lashed out at Twitter for censoring a recent post which criticized Obamacare.
The President’s eldest son accused the social media site of “suppressing… thought” after it hid the details of a message which supposedly featured “potentially sensitive content”.
In the message, Trump Jr posted a news story about health insurance giants Aetna pulling out of Obamacare, and asked “How much more will this drive up #obamacare premiums?”
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) May 11, 2017
He quoted a tweet by the Drudge Report, which itself linked to this news story by Bloomberg, announcing that Aetna was leaving Obamacare exchanges in Nebraska and Delaware, the only two states where it was still participating.
However, for some users the content of his message was hidden, replaced by a message which said: “This Tweet is not available because it includes potentially sensitive content.”
Trump Jr posted numerous tweets complaining about his treatment, and eventually took to rival platform Instagram where he suggested that Twitter executives may have acted against him deliberately. He said:
I don’t think there is anything remotely controversial or offensive about the truth here and yet it seems @twitter decided to at least partially censor the tweet. Some people saw it as it sits and yet for others it showed up as not available. Numerous followers pointed out the same thing to me. Is this actually happening to others as well? Are the executives or algorithms deciding what is and isn’t appropriate and actually suppressing or minimizing the potential impact of thought? Considering how benign this is compared to some of the other stuff I see on twitter it’s shocking that this could be singled out as somehow offensive, but I guess the failure of #obamacare doesn’t fit the narrative of Silicon Valley. #censored #twitter #freespeech #thought
A Twitter spokesman would not comment on specifics when asked by WIRED why the “sensitive content” filter was applied.
Usually, content would be filtered by low-level moderators in response to complaints by other users, or if it interacted with high-risk accounts.
The implication – thought not made explicit – was that it was a routine decision made by grunts, rather than evidence of antipathy from Twitter bigwigs.
Nonetheless, it would hardly be unprecedented for senior figures at the social network to covertly censor posts – especially when Obama’s reputation is at stake.
Last year BuzzFeed News reported that former CEO Dick Costolo secretly set up a team of moderators to manually censor posts which insulted Obama while he was participating in an #AskPOTUS online Q&A session back in 2015.
Sources at the company said he made the decision himself, and kept it from other senior staff who he knew would have objected. Costolo himself declined to comment.
Senior executives are also involved in spats involving high-profile users.
Notably, current CEO Jack Dorsey took a direct interest in the dispute between Leslie Jones and Milo Yiannopoulos that led to his @Nero account being banned for good.
Members of the President’s family could well fall into that bracket as well.