After years of using Twitter as a mouthpiece for violent rhetoric and legislation, President Donald Trump was permanently banned from the platform on Friday.
Less than two weeks before the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, the social media company removed the commander in chief after rioters overtook the Capitol on Wednesday, leading to the deaths of at least five people.
In a blog post about the permanent suspension, Twitter said they did so “due to the risk of further incitement of violence.”
“In the context of horrific events this week, we made it clear on Wednesday that additional violations of the Twitter Rules would potentially result in this very course of action. Our public interest framework exists to enable the public to hear from elected officials and world leaders directly. It is built on a principle that the people have a right to hold power to account in the open,” the company wrote.
“However, we made it clear going back years that these accounts are not above our rules entirely and cannot use Twitter to incite violence, among other things. We will continue to be transparent around our policies and their enforcement.”
The company also included a comprehensive analysis of how it came to this conclusion.
Trump’s Twitter page currently looks like this:
Asked whether Trump would be allowed to make another Twitter page outside of his now-banned @realDonaldTrump page, the company told HuffPost:
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. For government accounts, such as @POTUS and @WhiteHouse, we will not suspend those accounts but will take action to limit their use. However, these accounts will be transitioned over to the new administration in due course and will not be suspended by Twitter unless absolutely necessary to alleviate real-world harm.
Twitter’s permanent suspension comes in the wake of more than 300 Twitter employees signing an internal petition calling Trump to be banned. Employees said they were “disturbed” by the attack on the Capitol and demanded that Twitter “provide a clear account” of its decision to merely temporarily suspend Trump’s account and to investigate “Twitter’s role in today’s insurrection.”
“We must learn from our mistakes in order to avoid causing future harm,” they wrote.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced on Thursday that Trump would be banned from the platform “indefinitely” as a result of the insurrection.
“The shocking events of the last 24 hours clearly demonstrate that President Donald Trump intends to use his remaining time in office to undermine the peaceful and lawful transition of power to his elected successor, Joe Biden,” Zuckerberg said in a statement.
“We believe the risks of allowing the President to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great,” he continued. “Therefore, we are extending the block we have placed on his Facebook and Instagram accounts indefinitely and for at least the next two weeks until the peaceful transition of power is complete.”
Shortly after Zuckerberg’s announcement, the head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, tweeted that Trump had been blocked from its platform “indefinitely and for at least the next two weeks.” (Instagram is owned by Facebook.)
Twitter and other social media companies have long been criticized for not banning the president or taking harsher action against him after his repeatedly use of the platform to incite outrage and violence. The companies have previously defended leaving up Trump’s posts as they were of “the public’s interest.”
In the last year, there’s been a palpable shift as Trump’s behavior on social media has escalated. Twitter’s earliest action to curb his rhetoric came in the form of warning labels beneath certain tweets, which alerted followers if a tweet was factually inaccurate or violated rules against glorifying violence. Facebook and Instagram would later follow suit.
After the riot at the Capitol, Twitter had instituted a lock on his account for 12 hours, noting that the ban would be extended if tweets rejecting the results of the November election, and those that violated its “Civic Integrity” policy, were not deleted.
“Future violations of the Twitter Rules, including our Civic Integrity or Violent Threats policies, will result in permanent suspension of [Trump’s] account,” read a tweet on Wednesday.
The tweets had been deleted as of Thursday afternoon.
“No individual on the Earth, including no other world leader, has so frequently used social media to spread disinformation, incite violence, and undermine the democratic processes of the United States,” said Emerson Brooking, resident fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab and co-author of “LikeWar: The Weaponization of Social Media,” to USA Today Wednesday.
“It is inconceivable, once his ban is lifted, that Trump does not immediately use his account to inflict more pain,” Brooking added.
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