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This week, two high-profile incidents laid bare America’s racial contract. Both found accelerants in social media and provoked questions about its role in society.
In New York City, video of a white woman threatening to call the police on—she stressed—an “African American” man went viral. A social-media mob rebuked Amy Cooper, perhaps deterring those who might consider such behavior in the future, Zeynep Tufekci argues.
In Minnesota, the death of a black man named George Floyd at the hands of police prompted protests and looting. (An officer is now charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter in Floyd’s death.)
The president condemned the protests on Twitter, referring to protesters as "thugs" and adding: “When the looting starts, the shooting starts.” Twitter appended a warning label to the message, indicating that the tweet violated company policy, but acknowledging that it may be in the public interest to leave it accessible.
It was the latest development in an ongoing standoff with the president, whose posts Twitter began moderating this week. Trump responded with an executive order targeting social-media companies.