Following President Trump’s positive COVID-19 diagnosis, social media companies have voiced a clear message: Any content that wishes for the death of anyone, including the president, will be removed.
After the president announced that he and first lady Melania Trump tested positive for coronavirus early Friday morning, many people, including his political opponents, wished them well.
But many social media users did not feel the same way, and Facebook, Twitter and TikTok have all announced that posts expressing a desire for someone to die will be removed for violating each platform’s user guidelines.
Twitter said Friday night that “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.”
Twitter asks that users report any form of abuse or harassment on the platform.
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, 2020
“Abuse and harassment have no place on Twitter,” a spokesperson told CBS News on Saturday. “We do not tolerate content that wishes, hopes or expresses a desire for death, serious bodily harm or fatal disease against an individual or group of people. If we identify accounts that violate these rules, we will take enforcement action.”
Some Twitter users were surprised by the announcement. In the past, the platform has been inconsistent with removing tweets featuring hate speech and threats of violence.
Facebook and TikTok echoed the sentiment, stating they would remove posts wishing for the president’s death.
“To be clear, Facebook is removing death threats or content targeted directly at the president that wishes him death, including comments on his posts or his page – in addition to content tagging him,” Facebook spokesperson Liz Bourgeois tweeted Friday night, following Twitter’s announcement.
A spokesperson for TikTok also confirmed to CBS News on Saturday morning that “content that wishes the death of any person, including the president, violates our community guidelines, and we remove such content as we become aware of it.”
President Trump announced early Friday morning he had tested positive for COVID-19, and doctors said Saturday he was fever-free and in “exceptionally good spirits.” They spoke hours after the president was flown to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
However, a source familiar with the president’s health said Saturday that his “vitals over the last 24 hours were very concerning and the next 48 hours will be critical in terms of his care.”
“We’re still not on a clear path to a full recovery,” the source said.
On Saturday, Mr. Trump tweeted an update from the hospital, where the White House says he will spend the next few days. He said he is “feeling well” with help from doctors and nurses and everyone at Walter Reed, calling them “AMAZING.”