U.S. President Donald Trump has been permanently banned from Twitter, less than two weeks before he is set to leave office.
Twitter announced the move late Friday, saying it had conducted a “close review” of the President’s recent tweets and how they were being received, and concluding that two tweets from his personal account, @realDonaldTrump, on Friday might lead to violence on or around the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden later this month. In its statement, the company said it had seen talk of a “proposed secondary attack on the US Capitol and state capitol buildings on January 17, 2021.”
Twitter had previously suspended Trump’s access for 12 hours on Wednesday, after a mob composed of the President’s supporters broke into the U.S. Capitol Building, ransacked congressional offices and interrupted the joint session intended to accept the electoral college votes confirming Biden’s victory in last year’s election. Five individuals died during the riot, including four supporters of the President and an officer with the Capitol Police.
“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,” Twitter’s statement Friday said.
The company cited the President’s tweets on Friday, one which said his supporters “will not be disrespected or treated unfairly in any way, shape or form” and the other which was an announcement that he would not be attending Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20.
“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 said.
Twitter subsequently banned Trump’s campaign account (@TeamTrump), his campaign digital director (@garycoby) and locked the government-use @POTUS account after the President tried using them to circumvent his initial ban (though campaign director of social media Mike Hahn disputed that Trump had used the campaign account).
In response to the ban, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) called for Congress to repeal Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, the legislation that protects social media platforms from being liable for what their users say.
Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) however, said that “no private company is obligated to provide a megaphone,” noting that Twitter and other social media companies waited until it was confirmed Democrats would control both houses of Congress this year before acting.
Team Trump banned by tech
Twitter joins Facebook (and Instagram), Snapchat and Twitch as some of the platforms to remove Trump’s pages in recent days. Each of these companies initially began with indefinite or temporary suspensions on Wednesday. Twitch and Facebook have indicated that Trump may regain access after the inauguration.
Shopify has likewise blocked the Trump campaign’s digital store, while YouTube announced changes that could ban accounts spreading election misinformation.
On Friday, Reddit banned its r/DonaldTrump community and a moderator of its r/conspiracy community. While a specific reason wasn’t given for the subreddit ban, the moderator was banned for “inciting communities” and violating the site’s content policy, according to the Daily Dot.
Apple has likewise threatened to ban the social media app Parler if it doesn’t enact some content moderation policies, while Google Play did Apple one better by suspending Parler until it addresses a lack “robust moderation for egregious content.” Google said it took the action “in light of this ongoing and urgent public safety threat.” Meanwhile, Discord banned its “The Donald” server which is affiliated with pro-Trump communities (including the former Reddit page r/TheDonald, which was banned last year for “harassment, hate speech and content manipulation,” Gizmodo reported).
Earlier Friday, Twitter suspended a number of accounts that showed support for the QAnon internet conspiracy, including former National Security Advisor and retired General Michael Flynn and Trump attorney Sidney Powell.
Payment platform Stripe suspended the Proud Boys, a far-right group, on Friday.
The video streaming platform DLive likewise announced on Friday it was suspending several accounts in relation to Wednesday’s riot.
Twitter’s share price dropped in after-hours trading on the news, pricing in at $50.40 after closing Friday at $51.48.
UPDATE (Jan. 9, 2021, 06:35 UTC): Added additional suspensions and information.