Jan 8, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Twitter bans Trump

Screenshot of Trump's account.

Twitter announced Friday that the platform will permanently suspend President Trump's account effective immediately.

Driving the news: It's Twitter's strongest action against the president's account and comes in response to the "risk of further incitement of violence," per the social media company. The move follows Wednesday's siege at the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob as Congress was certifying the Electoral College votes for President-elect Joe Biden.

What they're saying:

  • "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," the company said in a blog post.
  • "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."
  • "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 other side: Trump tweeted from the official presidential Twitter account (@POTUS) after the ban of his personal account on Friday night. Twitter instantly deleted the latest tweets.

  • "As I have been saying for a long time, Twitter has gone further and further in banning free speech, and tonight, 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," the president tweeted after the ban.

Details: Before Trump tweeted from the official presidential account, a company spokesperson told Axios that if Trump evaded the ban using that account, the company would temporarily limit the features available to it.

  • If he attempts to circumvent the policy with any other account, it will also be suspended.

Context: The company decided to ban the president after it analyzed his most recent two tweets on Friday in the context of “ongoing tensions in the United States" and how people may respond.

  • Twitter determined that the tweets could inspire others to replicate the violence that occurred during the assault on the Capitol and therefore violated the company's policy against glorifying violence.
  • The social media company temporarily suspended Trump's account on Wednesday for continuing to post false claims that the 2020 election had been stolen from him as a mob assaulted the Capitol in his name.

Our thought bubble, via Axios’ Ina Fried: Many people have been calling for this, but it’s also a significant financial risk for Twitter.

  • The move is guaranteed to send complaints from the right that the technology industry is biased against conservatives into overdrive.

The big picture, via Axios' Kyle Daly: With Democrats about to hold all the levers of power in Washington, tech platforms feel freer — and more obligated — to crack down on incendiary right-wing figures on their platforms without fear of political reprisal.

  • Facebook has already hit Trump with an indefinite suspension lasting at least through Biden’s inauguration.
  • Apple on Friday threatened to remove right-wing-friendly social media app Parler from its App Store if it doesn’t lay out a plan to moderate content.

Between the lines, via Axios' Jonathan Swan: In several conversations over the past few years, Trump has said he considers social media to be his most powerful weapon — his voice.

Of note: The president potentially would have been banned anyway after Jan. 20 due to losing his world leader status, but his recent behavior pushed the platform over the edge.

  • The president amassed 88.7 million followers on his personal account at the time of its ban.
  • The official presidential and White House accounts will be transferred to the Biden administration on Jan. 21.

The White House has not responded to Axios' request for comment.

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