Snapchat Refuses to Promote US President Donald Trump

Snapchat is the latest social media service to take a stand against the divisive nature of the US Presidency. They are no longer promoting Trump.

The fallout over US president’s divisive and inflammatory messaging is continuing. Last month, Trump issued comments on Twitter that many call flat out lies about mail-in ballots. Twitter surprised some observers when they broke with the usual hands off approach to the president and attached a fact-checking message underneath the tweets.

The very next day, Trump signed an executive order trying to kill Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Many observers said that the order is legally meaningless. Other critics blasted the move saying that if Trump had acted this quickly to stop the spread of COVID-19, we wouldn’t be seeing American deaths reach 100,000 now.

The fallout then continued when Trump issued another Tweet in response to the protest sparked by the killing of George Floyd at the hands of police. Trump said that when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Once again, Twitter surprised people even more when they actually enforced their own community guidelines and put up a message saying that the tweet violated the rules because it glorified violence.

Yesterday, we reported on the escalating drama when a group backed by Google, Facebook, and Twitter filed a lawsuit against Trump. The lawsuit challenges the executive order because, according to the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT), it violated first amendment protections.

Now, we are learning of even more dramatic fallout. Social networking service, Snapchat, is now saying that they will no longer be promoting Donald Trumps account. From The BBC:

As a result, it will no longer feature in the app’s Discover section. The firm said it would “not amplify voices who incite racial violence and injustice”.

The decision follows Mr Trump saying that “vicious dogs” and “ominous weapons” would have been used on protesters if they had breached the White House fence.

It follows Twitter’s decision to hide some of the president’s posts.

Snapchat’s parent company Snap said: “Racial violence and injustice have no place in our society and we stand together with all who seek peace, love, equality, and justice in America.”

Grappling with how to handle the president has been difficult for social media. On the one hand, the US president using the network is often seen as one of the ultimate legitimization of the network. On top of that, there is the potential for so much ad revenue especially when your network winds up being the centre of so much attention. So, there is ample reason why networks would love to have a sitting US president using their network.

On the other hand, there is the issue of standing up for principle. If someone is issuing violent, racists, and inflammatory comments that is in clear violation of community standards and terms of service, are you going to just stand by and ignore it? If it is anyone else, chances are, that answer is “no”, but when it is the US president making these divisive and vile statements, that’s where the real tug of war between money and human decency starts to happen.

In this case, taking a stand for what is right seems to have won out here on Snapchat. As the company said, racism has no place in this country and, by extension, their platform. They are saying that they are not tolerating it.

So such high stakes going on in the US, chances are, this story will have more play in the coming weeks and, probably, months. We’ll keep an eye out for updates as this story develops.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.



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