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Snapchat Demotes Donald Trump’s Account, Citing Comments That Incite ‘Racial Violence and Injustice’

President's account remains accessible on the platform but has been pulled from Snapchat Discover

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Evan Vucci/AP/Shutterstock

UPDATED: Snap, the parent company of social app Snapchat, said that Donald Trump’s account is no longer being promoted on its Discover media platform. The company cited Trump’s comments regarding “racial violence and injustice” for the decision.

Trump’s Snapchat account remains public, available to any users who subscribe to it or search for it. But Snap has stopped featuring the president’s posts on Discover as it has previously, a move prompted by inflammatory posts that Trump has made on Twitter and Facebook.

“We are not currently promoting the President’s content on Snapchat’s Discover platform,” a Snap spokeswoman said. “We will not amplify voices who incite racial violence and injustice by giving them free promotion on Discover. Racial violence and injustice have no place in our society and we stand together with all who seek peace, love, equality, and justice in America.”

Trump has more than 1.5 million followers on Snapchat, according to a Bloomberg report last month. Unlike other social platforms, Snapchat doesn’t publish number of followers. In the U.S., Snap claims the app reached 90% of all people 13-24 and 75% of those 13-34.

In response, Brad Parscale, Trump’s re-election campaign manager, complained that “Snapchat is trying to rig the 2020 election” and accused Snap of “voter suppression.”

“Radical Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel would rather promote extreme left riot videos and encourage their users to destroy America than share the positive words of unity, justice, and law and order from our President,” Parscale said in a statement. “Snapchat hates that so many of their users watch the President’s content and so they are actively engaging in voter suppression.”

Snap execs made the decision to pull the president’s account from the Discover page over the weekend.

That was in response to Trump’s messages posted on Twitter and Facebook saying that if protesters in Washington, D.C., had gotten too close to the White House, “vicious dogs” and “ominous weapons” would have been used against them.

Trump also last Friday, in posts on social media platforms, suggested Minneapolis rioters would be shot at. Twitter added a warning label to the tweet, saying it violated the policy against glorifying violence, while Facebook left it up — a decision that has caused a backlash among Facebook employees against CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

In that comment, Trump called people protesting the death of George Floyd protesters “THUGS” and said, “Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!” (The “looting and shooting” comment did not appear on Trump’s Snapchat account.)

The phrase “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” has a racist legacy: It was used in the late 1960s by Miami’s police chief in speaking about violently suppressing civil unrest in black neighborhoods and by segregationist George Wallace. Trump later claimed he was ignorant of the phrase’s racist implications.

In a lengthy memo sent to Snap staff Sunday and later posted by the company, CEO Evan Spiegel wrote that “we simply cannot promote accounts in America that are linked to people who incite racial violence, whether they do so on or off our platform.”

“We may continue to allow divisive people to maintain an account on Snapchat, as long as the content that is published on Snapchat is consistent with our community guidelines, but we will not promote that account or content in any way,” Spiegel wrote. “It is never too late to turn towards love, and it is my sincere and earnest hope that the leadership of our great country will work towards our founding values, our raison d’être: freedom, equality, and justice for all.”

That policy, Spiegel added, doesn’t mean that “we will remove content that people disagree with” or delete “accounts that are insensitive to some people.”

(Updated 12:15 p.m. PT to add statement from Trump 2020 campaign.)