In a brazen show of leftist power, Twitter Inc permanently banned US President Donald Trump’s personal account for breaking its rules against glorifying violence, marking the most high-handed treatment the social-media company has ever meted out to supposedly the strongest, albeit outgoing, head of state.
“After close review of recent Tweets from the @realDonaldTrump account and the context around them — specifically how they are being received and interpreted on and off Twitter — we have permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence,” the company wrote in a blog post on 8 January.
The San Francisco-based company — whose CEO Jack Dorsey had infamously conceded his staff are dominated by leftists — announced the ban two days after Trump was initially suspended for posting a series of tweets that misled users about the presidential election results.
The American mainstream media as well as social media companies were of the view Trump had encouraged violent rioters who had mobbed the US Capitol. One included a video message of Trump expressing love for the insurgents and calling the election “fraudulent.” But is it the truth?
But if ‘fake’ claims did Trump in, Twitter did not cover itself in glory with a video from Trump’s handle on 8 January, the authenticity of which is doubtful.
Another dubious tweet from the removed account had the URL https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1347334804052844550
Twitter had demanded that Trump delete three offending tweets, and warned at the time that he would be permanently banned for subsequent rules violations. His account, which had more than 88 million followers, was restored 7 January. Trump’s posts on 8 January included a tweet saying he wouldn’t attend President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration — and Twitter determined the tweets violated the company’s policies when “read in the context of broader events in the country.”
“The 75,000,000 great American Patriots who voted for me, AMERICA FIRST, and MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN, will have a GIANT VOICE long into the future. They will not be disrespected or treated unfairly in any way, shape or form!!!” Trump posted earlier 8 January.
The company said this was an indication that the president planned to continue supporting and empowering those who believe he won the November election. “Plans for future armed protests have already begun proliferating on and off-Twitter, including a proposed secondary attack on the US Capitol and state capitol buildings on 17 January 2021,” Twitter wrote.
Twitter said it reviewed the tweets given “the ways in which the President’s statements can be mobilized by different audiences, including to incite violence, as well as in the context of the pattern of behavior from this account in recent weeks.” The company’s shares slipped about 2.6% in extended trading. The White House didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the permanent ban.
Trump’s suspension ends what has been the most controversial relationship Twitter has ever had with one of its users. Trump often used his account to verbally attack opponents and made claims in ways that broke the social network’s rules. The question remains whether a private company rather than a state should be allowed the right to operate in a domain that is a basic necessity of human beings — communication — and decide what a user can and cannot say.
After Trump’s temporary suspension earlier this week, many leftists voiced concern that Twitter hadn’t gone far enough. That group included many Twitter employees, who delivered a letter to Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey on 8 January, demanding the service remove Trump entirely.
“We do not believe these actions are sufficient,” employees wrote of Twitter’s temporary ban, according to a copy of the letter published by the Washington Post. Earlier on 8 January, the group SumOfUs which fights for change at powerful companies, parked a boat on the water outside of Dorsey’s San Francisco home demanding Twitter ban Trump. Dorsey hasn’t made any public comment about the activity on his network this week. Executives have said that Dorsey generally lets such decisions fall to Twitter’s top policy executive, Vijaya Gadde.
Trump supporters have long accused social networks of overstepping in their efforts to police user content. Many have declared their intention to move from Twitter to Parler Inc., a social network that bills itself as the home of free speech.
“Disgusting. Big Tech wants to cancel all 75M @realDonaldTrump supporters,” wrote Trump campaign adviser Jason Miller, on Twitter. “If you don’t think they’re coming for you next, you’re wrong.”
Trump, meanwhile, will retain control of the Twitter account @POTUS until inauguration on 20 January. That account, which belongs to the office of the president, has about 33 million followers, less than half that of his @realDonaldTrump personal account.