Twitter announced on Friday that US President Donald Trump’s account had been permanently suspended due to the risk of further incitement to violence following the storm on the US Capitol on Wednesday.
The suspension of Trump’s account, which had more than 88 million followers, silences his primary megaphone days before his term ends and follows years of debates about how social media companies should moderate the accounts of powerful global executives.
“After carefully examining the last tweets from the @ realDonaldTrump account and the context around them, we have permanently blocked the account due to the risk of further incitement to violence,” the company said in a tweet.
It was the first time Twitter has banned a head of state, the company confirmed.
Social media companies moved quickly to crack down on Trump and some of his prominent right-wing allies and supporters after five people were killed in Washington, DC on Wednesday.
Trump has repeatedly used Twitter and other platforms to claim his November 3 election defeat was due to widespread electoral fraud and to share other conspiracy theories, urging followers to come to Washington on Wednesday and on the Marching Capitol to protest the election result.
Facebook said earlier this week that it would put its account on hold until at least the end of his term as president.
The Republican president is due to be handed over to Democratic President-elect Joe Biden on January 20.
In one blog entry On Friday, Twitter announced that two of the president’s tweets posted that day violated his policies against the glorification of violence.
Twitter temporarily suspended Trump’s account on Wednesday after the siege of Capitol Hill, warning that additional violations of the president’s accounts would result in a permanent suspension.
Trump had to delete three tweets that violated the rules before his account was unlocked. He returned to Twitter on Thursday with a video confirming that Biden would be the next US president.
Twitter said that Trump’s tweet that he would not attend Biden’s inauguration was received by a number of his supporters as confirmation that the November election was illegitimate.
It said another tweet praised “American Patriots” and said its followers “will not be disregarded or treated unfairly in any way, form or form !!!” could be seen as “another indication that President Trump has no plans to facilitate an orderly transition.”
Critics of major social media platforms, including leading Democratic politicians, praised Twitter’s move, saying it was long overdue while Trump supporters voiced their outrage.
The president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., declared the ban in a tweet Friday, saying dictators who threatened genocide continued to have Twitter accounts. He gave no names.
The White House had no immediate direct comment. The Trump campaign Twitter account criticized the company for silencing the President of the United States.
Using the @ POTUS account, Trump said he would try to build his own platform.
“Loot and Shoot”
Trump’s prolific use of social media helped him get into the White House in 2016. He used his personal @ realDonaldTrump account, which sometimes tweeted more than 100 times a day, to reach out to supporters, spread misinformation, and even fire fighters.
In a 2017 interview with Fox Business, Trump said, according to a transcript released by the network, “I doubt I would be here if it weren’t for social media, to be honest.”
Both Twitter and Facebook have long given Trump special privileges as world market leader. Tweets that might violate company policies would not be removed because they would be in the public interest. However, they said he would lose access to these privileges if he left office.
Twitter began flagging and warning Trump’s tweets last year who violate the rules against glorifying violence, manipulated media, or sharing potentially misleading information through voting processes.
In May, Twitter posted a warning sign on a Trump tweet about widespread anti-racism protests against the police murder of George Floyd, which included the phrase “When the looting begins, the shootings begin”. Facebook, which has been targeted by staff and lawmakers for ceasing to take action against Trump’s inflammatory posts, declined to respond to the same message.
Trump will still have access to the official @WhiteHouse and @POTUS accounts, but will lose them when his term as president ends. When asked if Trump could create another account, a Twitter spokeswoman said if the company had reason to believe he was using accounts to evade Friday’s lock, those accounts could also be locked.
© Thomson Reuters 2021
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