Snap says it will stop promoting Donald Trump’s account

Via Financial Times

Snap has said it will cease to promote Donald Trump’s account on its platform for “inciting racial violence”, becoming the latest social media group to clamp down on the US president’s content and provoke his campaign’s ire. 

Snap, the parent of the camera and messaging app Snapchat, said on Wednesday that it had removed Mr Trump’s account from its Discover feed, which typically features curated content from politicians, celebrities and news outlets. 

“We will not amplify voices who incite racial violence and injustice by giving them free promotion on Discover,” a spokesperson for the company said. The president’s account will still remain on the platform.

Calling Snap’s chief executive Evan Spiegel “radical” on Wednesday, Brad Parscale, campaign manager for Mr Trump’s re-election bid, accused the platform of “trying to rig the 2020 election [and] illegally using their corporate funding to promote Joe Biden and suppress President Trump”.

Mr Parscale added: “Snapchat hates that so many of their users watch the president’s content and so they are actively engaging in voter suppression.” 

Snap’s decision comes just days after the US president became embroiled in a war of words with Twitter after the social media site added fact-check warnings to several of his posts. 

Among those, Twitter hid from view a Trump tweet referencing the continuing protests over the death of George Floyd — in which he used the phrase “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” — for “glorifying violence”.

In response, the president accused Twitter of “stifling free speech” and signed an executive order designed to curtail the power of social media platforms to moderate its users freely. 

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While Twitter has long been Mr Trump’s preferred tool for broadcasting his views, Snap has become an increasingly popular platform for campaigning and political advertising as groups seek to target its younger millennial and Generation Z audiences. 

Snap’s shares fell as much as 4 per cent on the news in after-hours trading, before recovering. 

The company’s decision was spurred by a Trump tweet from May 30 that said if demonstrators had breached the White House fence, they would have been “greeted with the most vicious dogs and ominous weapons”, a spokesperson said, as well as similar messaging on Snapchat.

The move will probably renew pressure on larger rival Facebook, which has so far refused to take any action on Mr Trump’s content — including an identical post to the one taken down by Twitter — on the grounds that it does not believe private companies should be “arbiter of truth”. 

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has faced a growing backlash internally for the stance, with some staff publicly criticising the decision and staging “virtual walkouts” this week.

Mr Zuckerberg on Tuesday defended the decision in a tense staff meeting, though the company said it would explore other options for moderating content beyond merely leaving it up or taking it down, according to media reports.