Twitter on Monday added a warning label to a tweet by Rep. Matt Gaetz that called for members of the radical activist group antifa to be hunted down like “terrorists” for violating the company’s policies against glorifying violence — the social network’s latest enforcement action against a prominent GOP official.
The Florida Republican, one of President Donald Trump’s fiercest allies on Capitol Hill, ratcheted up his rhetoric against the left-wing group in a missive earlier Monday, writing, “Now that we clearly see Antifa as terrorists, can we hunt them down like we do those in the Middle East?”
The remarks come on the heels of Trump’s announcement that he plans to designate the activist group known as antifa, short for “anti-fascist,” as a terrorist organization.
“We have placed a public interest notice on this Tweet from @mattgaetz. The Tweet is in violation of our glorification of violence policy,” a Twitter spokesperson told POLITICO in an email. “As is standard with this notice, engagements with the Tweet will be limited. People will be able to Retweet with Comment, but will not be able to Like, Reply or Retweet it.”
In response, Gaetz called the warning his “badge of honor” and vowed not to relent on his rhetoric.
“Antifa is a terrorist organization, encouraging riots that hurt Americans,” he tweeted. “Our government should hunt them down. Twitter should stop enabling them. I’ll keep saying it.”
The social network has faced a firestorm of criticism from Trump and his allies, including Gaetz, for taking the same action against a recent Trump tweet that appeared to urge the shooting of looters in Minnesota.
Gaetz’s tweet sparked outcry from advocates for stricter gun restrictions, who said his post could incite violence.
“Take the Gaetz tweet down right now @twitter. RIGHT NOW,” tweeted Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), whose state was the site of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. “The survivors of mass shootings are lighting up my phone. They are scared to death this will inspire someone to start shooting into a crowd tonight. They are right.”
David Hogg, an advocate for tighter gun regulations and a survivor of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Fla., also took umbrage at Gaetz’s comment. “Imagine saying you love your country but embracing the extrajudicial killing of your fellow citizens,” he tweeted in response to Gaetz.
Gaetz took exception with Murphy’s remarks. “Spare me your woke virtue signaling,” he tweeted in response.
“Governments go after terrorists. Individuals don’t,” he added. “We — the government — should continue to do so. And Antifa is rightly on the list!”
After Twitter’s ruling Monday, Gaetz also tweeted in support of Trump’s call to revoke the online industry’s legal immunity over user content, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. The 1996 law has come under fire from conservatives who accuse Silicon Valley of suppressing their voices.
There’s no evidence of systemic political bias by Twitter and other social media companies, but rolling back Section 230 has become a rallying for Trump and his allies who allege there is.