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Snap Says It Won’t Promote Snapchat Account of President Trump

Social-media company determines president’s public comments could incite violence. Snap Says It Won’t Promote Snapchat Account of President Trump

Snap Says It Won't Promote Snapchat Account of President Trump

Social-media company Snap Inc.  said Wednesday that it would no longer promote the Snapchat account of President Trump on its home page after finding that his public remarks could incite racial violence, a spokeswoman said.

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Snap, which runs the popular video and photo chat app Snapchat, said it had determined that Mr. Trump’s public comments could lead to violence. The company made the decision this weekend and noted several tweets on Saturday related to protests about the killing of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis.

In the tweets, Mr. Trump praised the U.S. Secret Service for keeping protesters from “breaching the fence” at the White House. “If they had they would have been greeted with the most vicious dogs,” the president wrote in the tweets.

The company said Mr. Trump’s account would remain on the app but wouldn’t be featured prominently on its Discover page, where it has usually been placed highly among celebrities and other popular public figures.

“We will not amplify voices who incite racial violence and injustice by giving them free promotion on Discover,” a Snap spokeswoman said Wednesday. “Racial violence and injustice have no place in our society.”

The White House didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

In a statement, Mr. Trump’s 2020 campaign manager, Brad Parscale, accused Snapchat of voter suppression and said the company is illegally trying to suppress the president. “If you’re a conservative, they do not want to hear from you, they do not want you to vote,” Mr. Parscale said.

Mr. Trump makes regular appearances on Snapchat’s Discover feature, which offers a variety of content from celebrities and influencers, as well as professional publishers.

The president has embraced social media in a manner with few historical parallels, using Twitter frequently to reach more than 81 million followers on the platform, often with posts that directly take on perceived opponents and challenge critics, including with occasional insults and threats.

On Snapchat, where he has roughly 1.5 million followers, his presence has grown through quick, lighthearted content meant to appeal to the app’s legion of younger users.

While Mr. Trump has been most closely associated with Twitter, which has 166 million daily active “monetizable” users, Snapchat has 229 million daily active users. Facebook, meanwhile, has 1.73 billion daily active users, according to the companies.

In a memo sent to employees Sunday, after protests erupted nationwide after the killing of Mr. Floyd, Snap Chief Executive Evan Spiegel said the company “simply cannot promote accounts in America that are linked to people who incite racial violence, whether they do so on or off our platform.” He didn’t name any person or accounts specifically, but Mr. Spiegel said Snapchat won’t use its Discover home page to promote “divisive people.”

“We will not promote that account or content in any way,” he said in the memo. He said, however, that Snap wouldn’t remove the content people disagree with or find insensitive.

Snap is the second social-media company that has begun to apply its content-policing policies to the president’s posts. Twitter Inc. last month took several actions on Mr. Trump’s posts, marking some of his posts as breaking the company’s rules and adding a fact-check label to others about mail-in ballots.

Mr. Trump responded by issuing an executive order to take aim at what he said was censorship by social-media companies and threatened to harm Twitter if it didn’t stop tagging his posts.

Twitter and Snap’s decision is in contrast to Facebook Inc., which has chosen not to take down or limit the reach of posts by the president.

In a town-hall meeting with employees Tuesday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg defended the decision, saying that Mr. Trump didn’t break the company’s rules but that he would create teams to study other options for handling controversial posts.

Facebook employees held a virtual walkout Monday to oppose the policy decision, and employees have aired their grievances on Twitter.

Social media has become a battleground during the protests. Users on Twitter, Facebook and other platforms have used the networks to organize events and document protests and rioting. The platforms have become a tool for users to push competing narratives about who is behind the looting that has happened in several cities, as well as to make broad political points about the protests.

In addition to organizing activities, social-media platforms have also been used for misinformation and to incite discord, including with the use of edited videos targeting the president or conflating peaceful protesters with looters.

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