President Trump’s hasty COVID-19 recovery has brought on many conflicting feelings. After the news of his sickness broke, only two days after his cringeworthy debate performance where Trump mocked Biden for wearing “the biggest mask,” Twitter erupted. Some called the diagnosis his karmic fate; others wished death upon him. Soon after, Twitter resoponded to the surge, saying, “Tweets that wish or hope for death, serious bodily harm or fatal disease against *anyone* are not allowed and will need to be removed. This does not automatically mean suspension.”
tweets that wish or hope for death, serious bodily harm or fatal disease against *anyone* are not allowed and will need to be removed. this does not automatically mean suspension. https://t.co/lQ8wWGL2y0 https://t.co/P2vGfUeUQf— Twitter Comms (@TwitterComms) October 2, 2020ADVERTISEMENT
Politicians including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez came forward to call out the platform's contradictory policies. In response to Twitter, Ocasio-Cortez asked, “So… you mean to tell us you could’ve done this the whole time?” The congresswoman, who has previously opened up about the death threats she has received, many of which are from men who “want to kill her,” is skeptical of the people Twitter is choosing to defend.
What people don’t (maybe do) realize is when orgs air these hateful messages, my life changes bc of the flood of death threats they inspire.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) May 28, 2019
I‘ve had mornings where I wake up & the 1st thing I do w/ my coffee is review photos of the men (it’s always men) who want to kill me. https://t.co/hiYbPghad7
Other representatives such as Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, and Ayanna Pressley have also come forward about the death threats they receive on Twitter. Last year, Omar received countless threats from right-wing extremists after Trump tweeted a clip of her speech, suggesting that she was dismissive of 9/11. Omar said in a statement, “Violent rhetoric and all forms of hate speech have no place in our society, much less from our country's Commander in Chief. We are all Americans. This is endangering lives. It has to stop.” Tlaib and Pressley also came forward about Twitter’s lack of initiative when it comes to their safety.
However, other figures expressed support for Twitter’s statement. Filmmaker Ava DuVernay began a tweet to Trump, “I truly hope you get well as you’re infected with a life-threatening virus and are physically ill.” After receiving backlash for her tweet, DuVernay responded to one call-out from writer Kinsey Clarke, tagging Vogue Magazine, where Clarke works. Clarke responded to DuVernay’s tweet, writing, “I think we all should be asking @Ava why, instead of directing her anger at a president who is gaslighting an entire nation and infecting his work staff, she decided to tag my employer when I pulled her receipts up. I personally would really like to know.”
I think we all should be asking @Ava why, instead of directing her anger at a president who is gaslighting an entire nation and infecting his work staff, she decided to tag my employer when I pulled her receipts up. I personally would really like to know. pic.twitter.com/wsfZN9ER6OOctober 5, 2020
Twitter's new policy proves one thing: Trump's fragility matters more to the platform than genuine threats from white supremacists. COVID or no COVID, this has to change.
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Olivia Simonds is a graduate of Clark University with a bachelor’s degree in Sociology and a minor in English literature and creative writing. Much of her work is inspired by long subway rides, her friendships, and the perpetual pulse of New York City, where she grew up and still lives today.
You can follow her on Instagram @oliviasimonds or on Twitter @livsimondss