Twitter bans Trump, says plans for armed protests are floating round on Jan. 17
Twitter finally blocked President Donald Trump’s account on Friday.
The company said in a tweet it made the decision “because of the risk of further inciting violence”.
Twitter feared that Trump’s recent tweets would be interpreted as support for the rioters and that plans for future armed protests both on and off the platform had already increased, including a planned attack on the US Capitol and the US Capitol buildings on January 17th.
The ban represents a ban: Trump can no longer access his account and his tweets and profile picture have been deleted. Trump had 88.7 million followers before his suspension. Institutional accounts like @POTUS and @WhiteHouse are still active.
Trump later tweeted a statement from the @POTUS account before it appeared to be deleted. Later on Friday, the same statement was shared by the Trump campaign’s Twitter account before the entire account became permanent.
“As we said earlier, using another account to evade a ban is against our rules,” a Twitter spokesman said in a statement.
Twitter said it wouldn’t lock intuitive accounts like @POTUS unless it had to be done to avoid real-world damage, but it could limit the capabilities of those accounts. These accounts are transferred to the next administration.
In Trump’s statement, he accused Twitter staff of “coordinating with the Democrats and the radical left to remove my account from their platform in order to silence me – and YOU, the 75,000,000 great patriots who are for me.” Twitter could be a private company, but without the government gift of Section 230, it wouldn’t exist long. “
Trump was referring to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, the law that protects tech platforms from legal liability for their users’ contributions and moderation. The Trump campaign account also shared an image of the usually blue Twitter logo in red with a yellow hammer and sickle, symbols associated with communism.
The suspension of Trump’s account is a move Twitter has rejected for Trump’s entire presidency. While President Barack Obama was the first president to use Twitter, he mostly used the institutional @POTUS account and didn’t rely on it as much as Trump needs to get his message across. Trump used his personal Twitter account to stir up supporters and even announce personnel changes before issuing a press release.
“I wouldn’t be here without the tweets,” Trump told the Financial Times in a 2017 interview.
For the foreseeable future, without access to Twitter or Facebook, all of Trump’s plans after the presidency will be broadcast over a smaller megaphone. While Trump can easily jump to another platform like Parler, which has billed itself as a less restrictive platform, there his messages are delivered directly to a much smaller group of followers.
Trump and his conservative allies in Congress targeted Twitter when the company was labeling or reviewing its posts. When Twitter first began reviewing Trump’s tweets last spring, Trump soon introduced an executive order targeting Section 230. Many viewed the order as retaliation for Twitter’s decision.
Twitter has specific rules in place to exempt sedentary world leaders from several of its guidelines, though it would continue to flag or reduce the circulation of messages that violate guidelines.
But when some of these Trump allies criticized Trump following the riots in the U.S. Capitol, Twitter finally made the decision many Democrats had called for long ago.
In particular, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris had directly urged Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to ban Trump during her own presidential campaign in the fall of 2019. At the time, staunch technology critic Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., A candidate for the President declined to join the call during a debate.
After the suspension, some GOP members, who often criticized Twitter for alleged bias against conservatives, warned the so-called abandonment culture and asked why Twitter had not taken similar measures against the Iranian leader.
The decision to lock Trump’s Twitter account was made after Facebook made a similar call and extended an initial 24-hour lock to an indefinite one, which CEO Mark Zuckerberg said would last at least until the end of Trump’s tenure would.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Twitter’s shares fell more than 3% after hours on the news.
Why Twitter pulled the plug
Trump was temporarily banned from Facebook and Twitter on Jan. 6 while his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol while lawmakers went through the electoral college voting formality. Many lawmakers, and even former members of the Trump administration, criticized Trump for encouraging his supporters to reject the election results and protest in the Capitol. Congress later confirmed Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election.
As the uprising unfolded, Trump tweeted messages encouraging nonviolence, although he later posted a video message that also reiterated his unsubstantiated claim that his election was stolen and told the rioters, “We love you.”
Twitter initially blocked some of Trump’s tweets from the public on Wednesday and requested that he delete them in order to regain access to his account. Once deleted, it was banned from the account for another 12 hours. However, Twitter warned that future policy violations would result in Trump’s account being permanently banned.
In his first tweet after returning to Twitter on Jan. 7, Trump posted a video message calling for calm and the closest thing to a concessional speech saying there would be a transition to a new administration. Nonetheless, he said to the followers: “Our incredible journey is only just beginning.”
On Friday, Trump tweeted for the second time since his first suspension, saying, “The 75,000,000 great American patriots who voted for me AMERICA FIRST, and MAKE AMERICA BIG AGAIN, are going to have a HUGE VOICE in the future. They won’t be.” disregarded or treated unfairly in any way, shape or form !!! “
Trump later tweeted, “Anyone who asked, I won’t go to the inauguration on January 20th.”
Twitter said in a blog post that the two tweets “need to be read in the context of more general events in the country and the way in which the president’s statements can be mobilized by various audiences, including incitement to violence, as well as context of the behavior patterns from this report over the past few weeks. “
Twitter found that these tweets violated the Glorification of Violence Policy, which resulted in the ban.
The company broke up the reasons it believed these tweets were against the guidelines, including the fact that its message that it would not attend the inauguration “will be received by a number of its supporters as further confirmation that that the choice was not legitimate “. Twitter also feared that the tweet could be viewed by supporters as a signal that it was “safe” to plot violent activity around the event since it would not be there.
Twitter also said that Trump’s characterization of his followers as “American patriots” was seen by some as support for the violence at the Capitol. The company found that Trump’s claim that backers would have a “HUGE VOICE long in the future” undermined the idea that there would indeed be an orderly transition.
The suspensions of Facebook and Twitter represent a big change for the companies that have so far avoided charging Trump’s accounts so drastically. Executives of both companies have been heavily criticized and accused of unfairly treating Trump and other Conservative accounts, which both have denied.
Now the role of the platform in maintaining the messages of the president and his supporters who planned the uprising is under public scrutiny.
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