Twitter Inc. (TWTR) - Get Report shares extended declines for a third consecutive session Friday after the micro-blogging website censured another message from its most high-profile user, President Donald Trump, in what is now an escalating battle between social media companies and the White House.
Twitter executives said a Tweet from the President, which threatened the use of National Guard troops to quell protests in the city of Minneapolis following the death of an African-American man, George Floyd, at the hands of the city police, violated the company's guidelines on "glorifying violence".
"...These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen," Trump Tweeted in a message that was obscured by a Twitter warning. "Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!"
Twitter's decision to apply its content rules to the President, however, risks escalating the current feud between both the company and its most visible user -- with more than 80 million followers -- as well as the Trump administration's broader attempts to remove liability protections from social media companies that the President has long-insisted are biased against him.
Twitter shares were marked 1.2% lower in pre-market trading Friday, following a 4.45% slump yesterday, to indicate an opening bell price of $31.24 each.
Trump said yesterday that he signed his executive order to "protect and uphold the free speech rights of the American people.”
“Currently, social media giants like Twitter receive an unprecedented liability shield based on the theory that they’re a neutral platform, which they’re not," the President added.
Twitter said the move, which seeks to have the Federal Communications Commission fine-tune rules on removing or censuring user content, "was a "reactionary and politicized approach to a landmark law" that would "threaten the future of online speech."
The executive order followed a series of threats and Tweets from the President aimed at what he deemed unfair and biased treatment of 'conservative voices' on social media platforms following the fact-checking of a message on voter fraud by Twitter executives earlier this week.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said the fact-check was necessary as the Tweets "may mislead people into thinking they don’t need to register to get a ballot", adding the company would update the link on the President's Tweets to "make this more clear."
"This does not make us an “arbiter of truth.”," Dorsey said via his verified Twitter account. "Our intention is to connect the dots of conflicting statements and show the information in dispute so people can judge for themselves."
"More transparency from us is critical so folks can clearly see the why behind our actions," he added.