The four progressive Democratic congresswomen, who have been a target of death threats on social media, are questioning Twitter's effort to protect President Donald Trump from malicious statements during his battle with COVID-19.
Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar and Ayanna Pressley, otherwise known as "The Squad,” notes they didn’t receive the same considerations Twitter is holding for Trump amid his COVID-19 diagnosis. The social media platform reiterated its policy against death threats after the President became ill.
"Tweets that wish or hope for death, serious bodily harm or fatal disease against *anyone* are not allowed and will need to be removed," Twitter stated.
tweets that wish or hope for death, serious bodily harm or fatal disease against *anyone* are not allowed and will need to be removed. this does not automatically mean suspension. https://t.co/lQ8wWGL2y0
— Twitter Comms (@TwitterComms) October 2, 2020
Tlaib followed up with her own expression of bewilderment.
"Seriously though, this is messed up. The death threats towards us should have been taking more seriously by [Twitter]," she tweeted.
— Rashida Tlaib (@RashidaTlaib) October 3, 2020
Jeremy Slevin, the communications director for Omar, said Twitter “doesn’t do s***” about the “actual death threats” against the congresswomen.
— Jeremy Slevin (@jeremyslevin) October 2, 2020
Slevin pulled up of screenshots of attacks against Omar.
“Great to see that this policy is already being enforced consistently!” he wrote.
— Jeremy Slevin (@jeremyslevin) October 3, 2020
The Squad has regularly been targeted by xenophobic verbal attacks and threats, including from the President himself.
As Vox reports, last July, Trump suggested the women "go back" to "go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how it is done. These places need your help badly, you can’t leave fast enough. I’m sure that Nancy Pelosi would be very happy to quickly work out free travel arrangements!"
Even prior to Trump's targeting of the women, they've been accused of being "terrorists" by right-wing pundits, an accusation which they say has put them in further danger.
This puts me in danger every time.
Almost every time this uncalled for rhetoric gets blasted by conserv. grps, we get a spike in death threats to refer to Capitol Police.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) April 10, 2019
This is dangerous incitement, given the death threats I face. I hope leaders of both parties will join me in condemning it.
My love and commitment to our country and that of my colleagues should never be in question. We are ALL Americans! pic.twitter.com/foTZMpiZKv
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) April 10, 2019
According to CNN, the Twitter policy against ill wishes isn't new, but the violations are either missed often or not regulated by the company.
"At Twitter, it is our top priority to improve the health of the public conversation, and that includes ensuring the safety of people who use our service. Abuse and harassment have no place on Twitter," a Twitter spokesperson told CNN.
The spokesperson said the rules apply to everybody and they are stated clearly.
"We do not tolerate content that wishes, hopes or expresses a desire for death, serious bodily harm or fatal disease against an individual or group of people," the company's representative said. "If we identify accounts that violate these rules, we will take enforcement action."
Trump tweeted about 9/11 last year while showing a video of Omar's speech at the California chapter of CAIR — the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
"Since the President's tweet Friday evening, I have experienced an increase in direct threats on my life — many directly referencing or replying to the President's video," she said in a statement, CNN reported. "I thank the Capitol Police, the FBI, the House Sergeant at Arms, and the Speaker of the House for their attention to these threats."
The President said CAIR was founded after 9/11. But it was founded in 1994, CNN reported.
"For far too long we have lived with the discomfort of being a second-class citizen and, frankly, I'm tired of it, and every single Muslim in this country should be tired of it," he said. "CAIR was founded after 9/11 because they recognized that some people did something and that all of us were starting to lose access to civil liberties."