Snapchat on Wednesday became the latest social network moving to curb the reach of U.S. President Donald Trump, claiming the president has been inciting "racial violence."
The youth-focused social network said it would no longer promote Trump on its Discover platform for recommended content, which means Trump's account remains on the platform, but it will just no longer be recommended viewing. The Discover feature at Snapchat is a curated platform on which the California-based company gets to decide what it recommends to users.
"We will not amplify voices who incite racial violence and injustice by giving them free promotion on Discover," a statement from Snapchat said.
"There are plenty of debates to be had about the future of our country and the world. But there is simply no room for debate in our country about the value of human life and the importance of a constant struggle for freedom, equality, and justice." the statement said.
Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale denounced the move, saying that "Snapchat is trying to rig the 2020 election, illegally using their corporate funding to promote Joe Biden and suppress President Trump."
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... If you're a conservative, they do not want to hear from you, they do not want you to vote. They view you as a deplorable and they do not want you to exist on their platform."
Snapchat is particularly popular with young internet users and claims that about half of the U.S. "Generation Z" population tap into news through its Discover feature.
The coronavirus pandemic has put an abrupt stop to traditional U.S. political means of courting young voters – forcing presidential candidates to turn to Snapchat instead. The photo-sending app that boasts 229 million users – better known for filters that turn your face into a puppy or a vampire – is a new battlefield for opponents Trump and Biden, both of whom are in their 70s.
According to Ken Farnaso, the Trump campaign deputy press secretary, Snapchat was an important element of the re-election effort and that the Republican was ahead of Biden on the platform.
"It's clear that we're wiping the floor with Biden's campaign," Farnaso said of the Snapchat effort.
Snapchat's move came days after Twitter took an unprecedented stand by hiding a Trump post it said promoted violence, heating up the White House war with Silicon Valley and social media. The move by Twitter last week prompted an angry response by Trump, who within days signed an executive order calling for heightened government oversight of social platforms.
Trump accuses the platforms of "censorship" and limiting "free speech," but his critics say the president has distorted the interpretation of those terms and is himself seeking to regulate online content.
In contrast to Twitter and Snapchat, Facebook has defended its decision not to interfere with posts by Trump. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg reportedly reiterated his position in a call with employees this week, despite criticism of the Facebook policy by civil rights activists.