Close to one in ten of the unverified accounts retweeted by President Donald Trump since he stepped into office in January 2017 have been suspended from Twitter for ‘various violations’, the Daily Beast has reported, citing its own analysis.
According to the Democratic-leaning outlet, of the 178 unverified users Trump has retweeted during his two and a half years in office, 16 had been suspended, with one account recently reinstated after a 60-day ban.
Meanwhile, of the 310 verified accounts Trump retweeted, only one, belonging to Britain First, a UK-based nationalist political group, was suspended under Twitter’s revised anti-abuse rules in 2017 for posting a video deemed anti-Islamic.
Daily Beast admitted that with some of the suspended accounts, there was “no easy way to tell when they were suspended or why,” but did say “most appeared to be suspended” sometime after Trump had retweeted them, usually no more than several months afterward, and sometimes just days afterward.
Josh Steed, a religious sports author and Trump supporter, said Trump’s retweet of a pair of his tweets led his Twitter page to witness “an explosion of attention,” followed several months thereafter by a notification from Twitter that he had violated the platform’s policy by supposedly posting a ‘death threat’. The offending tweet turned out to be a meme reply featuring Achmed the Dead Terrorist, a puppet of famed ventriloquist puppet Jeff Dunham, directed at a fake parody account of freshman Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar.
“I did not threaten to hurt or harm anyone,” Steed insisted. “If I violated their policy, it was with their gif,” he added, pointing out that he had chosen the meme response from Twitter’s own gif library.
A Twitter spokesperson explained that “a retweet from a high-profile account with a significant number of followers,” like Trump’s, “may get tweets noticed by new accounts who may report it, resulting in enforcement.”
Twitter has repeatedly been accused of censorship over its seemingly arbitrary suspension of accounts, with the microblogging giant, together with Google, Facebook and YouTube all facing similar criticisms, including from conservative figures and media, accusing the internet giants of having a ‘liberal bias’.
In an interview with C-SPAN last week, President Trump said he does not have any regrets about any of the thousands of tweets he’s sent out over since joining the platform in May 2009, but did admit that he’s run into problems with retweets.
“I guess you could say a lot of the times the bigger problem is the retweets. You know, a lot of the times, you’ll retweet something that sounds good, but it turned out to be from a player that’s not the best player in the world. That sort of causes a problem,” Trump said.
In any case, Trump said he has great faith in Twitter as an “incredible form of communication” which allowed him to break through to the public and challenge the “fake news” media.