Twitter allowed tweets threatening Rep. Ilhan Omar's life to remain publicly visible on the platform over the weekend so law enforcement could investigate them.
Omar said Sunday that threats against her have increased since President Donald Trump shared a video Friday that purports to show the Muslim congresswoman being dismissive of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The video coupled her comments from a recent speech in which she said "some people did something" with images of the hijacked airplanes striking the World Trade Center.
Twitter typically removes tweets that violate its terms of service when they're reported, but the social media platform temporarily left the tweets up to aid potential law enforcement investigation of the tweets, a person familiar with the matter said, confirming a BuzzFeed report. Capitol Hill police are investigating the threatening tweets, the source said.
"Death threats, incitement to violence and hateful conduct are absolutely unacceptable on Twitter," a Twitter spokesperson said. "Accounts spreading this type of material will be removed and coupled with our proactive engagement, we continue to encourage people to report this content to us. This behavior undermines freedom of expression and the values our service is based on."
For some time, critics of Twitter have attacked the social network over a perceived failure to respond quickly and appropriately to reports of troubling tweets and harassment on the site. At the end of 2017, after a #WomenBoycottTwitter protest, the company overhauled its rules on how it handles abusive behavior.
However, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey told Congress last year that Twitter should've acted faster to remove a doctored image that had appeared on the site the previous week, following Sen. John McCain's funeral. The tweet showed a gun pointed at McCain's daughter while she wept over her father's casket.
Some considered the "some people did something" comment to be disrespectful or flippant language to describe the terrorist attacks. But Omar's comment quoted in the tweet actually came from a speech before the Council on American-Islamic Relations in which she was defending the rights of Muslim Americans.
"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," she said at the event. "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 our civil liberties." (CAIR was in fact founded in 1994.)
Rep. Omar couldn't immediately be reached for comment.
Updated at 8 p.m. PT to correct image of Rep. Omar.