Twitter permanently suspends Trump’s account
Twitter permanently suspended President Trump’s account Friday after determining that his posts pose “the risk of further incitement of violence.”
The platform had previously handed the president a 12-hour suspension for posts made during Wednesday’s violent insurrection at the Capitol building.
“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,” the company wrote in a blog post.
Permanent suspension of Trump is a step further than other social media platforms have gone. Facebook announced Thursday that it would be suspending his access until at the least Biden’s inauguration with the potential for it being extended indefinitely further.
As supporters of the president stormed the Capitol, Trump used social media to continue spreading misinformation about the November election, which he lost.
Twitter had previously taken down two of his posts Wednesday — a video urging his supporters who broke into the Capitol to retreat while simultaneously praising the mob and repeating false claims about voter fraud, and another tweet with a similar message.
Trump deleted those posts and was allowed to start tweeting again Thursday morning.
With that ability back he posted a video urging peace and calm, followed by two tweets striking a markedly different tone.
“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!!!” the first post read.
“To all of those who have asked, I will not be going to the Inauguration on January 20th,” he said shortly after.
Twitter chose to act based on those last tweets.
“Due to the ongoing tensions in the United States, and an uptick in the global conversation in regards to the people who violently stormed the Capitol on January 6, 2021, these two Tweets must be read in the context of broader events in the country and 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,” Twitter explained.
“After assessing the language in these Tweets against our Glorification of Violence policy, we have determined that these Tweets are in violation of the Glorification of Violence Policy and the user @realDonaldTrump should be immediately permanently suspended from the service,” the company added.
Trump blasted the company’s decision in a series of tweets posted on the @POTUS account. He asserted that “Twitter employees have coordinated with the Democrats and the Radical Left in removing my account from their platform, to silence me — and YOU, the 75,000,000 great patriots who voted for me.”
He also wrote that he and his team were looking at the possibility of “building out our own platform in the near future” before the series of tweets were removed.
“I predicted this would happen. We have been negotiating with various other sites, and will have a big announcement soon, while we also look at the possibilities of building out our own platform in the near future,” Trump wrote. “We will not be SILENCED!”
The Hill has reached out the White House for further comment.
Pressure has been building on social media companies all week to permanently ban Trump, with lawmakers, academics and civil rights groups urging the company to take the action.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey also faced internal pressure. Hundreds of employees signed an internal letter calling for the president’s full suspension earlier in the day Friday, The Washington Post reported.
Many free speech activists have cautioned that permanently removing world leaders, despite their dangerous posts, could set worrying precedent for censorship.
Twitter explained in its blog post that the tweet about not attending the inauguration “is being received by a number of his supporters as further confirmation that the election was not legitimate” and could “serve as encouragement to those potentially considering violent acts that the Inauguration would be a ‘safe’ target, as he will not be attending.”
The platform highlighted the use of “American Patriots” to describe Wednesday’s mob in the other violating post, saying that it is being “interpreted as support for those committing violent acts at the US Capitol.”
Twitter also noted that it has seen plans for further armed action “including a proposed secondary attack on the US Capitol and state capitol buildings on January 17, 2021” proliferating on the platform.
Twitter’s decision to look at broader context when evaluating whether posts break its guidelines is new.
Attempts by Trump to circumvent the ban using the @POTUS or @WhiteHouse handles will be removed, a Twitter spokesperson told The Hill.
“As stated in our ban evasion policy, if it is clear that another account is being used for the purposes of evading a ban, it is also subject to suspension,” the spokesperson said. “For government accounts, such as @POTUS and @WhiteHouse, we will not suspend those accounts but will take action to limit their use.”
Updated: 9:14 p.m.