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Snap CEO says decision to limit Trump protected by First Amendment

"We want to use our rights to stand up for the things we believe in," Snap CEO Evan Spiegel says.

Angela Lang/CNET

Snap CEO Evan Spiegel has a message for critics who cried foul when the company decided to stop promoting President Donald Trump's posts on Snapchat's Discover page: Take it up with the Bill of Rights.

"We've always said Discover is a closed platform, and we choose the types of content we want to promote on our platform," Spiegel told CNBC's Power Lunch on Thursday. "We're well within our First Amendment rights to decide what shows up on there."

The comments come after the company decided, last week, to stop promoting content from Trump's account through Snapchat's Discover feature. Snap made the move after Trump said in a tweet on May 30 that if protesters outside the White House breached the fence, they'd be "greeted with the most vicious dogs, and most ominous weapons." The remark wasn't shared on Trump's Snapchat account.

Though the platform's users can continue to follow the president and view his posts, the move still prompted the Trump campaign to accuse Snap of "trying to rig the 2020 election."

"Snapchat hates that so many of their users watch the President's content and so they are actively engaging in voter suppression," Trump campaign chair Brad Parscale said in a statement.

Spiegel on Thursday defended the decision, saying there seems to be some "confusion" about the First Amendment. "The First Amendment is very specific. It's actually designed to protect individuals and private businesses from the government," he said.

"We want to use our rights to stand up for the things we believe in," he added.

"We are not currently promoting the President's content on Snapchat's Discover platform," a spokesman for Snap said in a statement last week. "We will not amplify voices who incite racial violence and injustice by giving them free promotion on Discover. Racial violence and injustice have no place in our society and we stand together with all who seek peace, love, equality, and justice in America."

Snap's diversity report

Spiegel came under fire later Thursday when it was reported that he told employees he doesn't want to release diversity numbers for the company. Diversity reports, like those released by other tech giants including Google, Microsoft and Intel, show the percentages of women and minorities employed at a company.

Snap says it's now looking at releasing the report. "We are working on how best to do this in the near term," a Snap spokesperson said in an emailed statement. Snap called Business Insider's initial story inaccurate, saying it's also working towards "plans for meaningful action."

"Snapchat looks like most other technology companies in terms of representation," Spiegel added during an interview with CNBC Thursday. "We think that's a bad thing, not a good thing, so we've been worried that all these disclosures have actually normalized the current composition of the tech workforce."