On 7 July 2016, Joe Walsh — a former one-term Congressman from Illinois and a conservative talk radio host — tweeted in reaction to the Dallas protest shooting that killed five police officers and injured seven by declaring “This is now war” and warning President Barack Obama and “black lives matters punks” to “watch out” because “Real America is coming after you”:
Walsh later blamed President Obama and the Black Lives Matter movement for the officers’ deaths:
Walsh said that about an hour after posting his (now-deleted) “watch out” tweet, he was notified by Twitter that his account had been suspended:
“They said the tweet might look like it might incite violence,” he said.
He said he was allowed to reopen his account only if the tweet was deleted, which he said had happened without him taking action.
“Twitter, Facebook — they’re all liberal,” he said. “They’re private companies and they got their standards that I have to follow if I want to be on Twitter. It is what it is.”
“The pre-condition for me reopening my account was they had to delete that tweet,” Walsh said.
Twitter’s rules state there are limits on what content and behavior it allows and that failure to comply with its rules “may result in the temporary locking and/or permanent suspension of account(s).”
Several types of messages and images are prohibited, including direct or indirect “violent threats.”
“You may not make threats of violence or promote violence, including threatening or promoting terrorism,” its rules state.
Walsh also told the Chicago Tribune that he did not intend his controversial tweet to be taken as call for violence against President Obama and Black Lives Matter:
An unrepentant Walsh stood by his tweets, saying: “Of course I didn’t mean ‘let’s go kill Obama and Black Lives Matter.’ I was not trying to incite violence against Obama and Black Lives Matter. That’s crazy and stupid and wrong.”
He added: “It would end my career and it’s wrong. I would never say anything as reprehensible as that.”
Walsh said what he was trying to convey in his tweets is this: “There’s a war against our cops in this country, and I think Obama has fed that war and Black Lives Matter has fed that war. … Obama’s words and the deeds of Black Lives Matter have gotten cops in this country killed.”