Jan 13, 2021 - Technology

Scoop: Snapchat will permanently ban Trump's account

A photo of President Donald Trump on the grounds of the White House

Photo: Drew Angerer via Getty Images

Snapchat will permanently ban President Trump's account on Jan. 20, Axios has learned, after locking it indefinitely last week following the Capitol siege.

Why it matters: The Trump campaign and digital team relied on Snapchat as a key platform to reach younger audiences before the company started limiting its reach in June. The majority of Snapchat's users are under 30.

What's happening: “Last week we announced an indefinite suspension of President Trump’s Snapchat account, and have been assessing what long term action is in the best interest of our Snapchat community," a spokesperson emailed Axios.

  • "In the interest of public safety, and based on his attempts to spread misinformation, hate speech, and incite violence, which are clear violations of our guidelines, we have made the decision to permanently terminate his account.” 

Details: Trump's account in recent months repeatedly broke Snapchat's rules against misinformation, hate speech and glorifying or inciting violence, company sources say.

  • One source tells Axios that the Trump account had attempted to violate policies "dozens of times." After each incident, Snapchat immediately removed his content before it gained much visibility and sent warnings to his team.
  • The move was sparked not just by actions on Snapchat, however, but by Trump's record of inciting violence on other platforms, company sources say. Snapchat leaders felt banning Trump was a matter of broad public safety.

Flashback: Citing the societal effects of Trump's inflammatory rhetoric, Snapchat in June stopped promoting his account in its "Discover" section, which features professional content and content from prominent people.

  • That preemptive action meant that Trump’s account was not visible to Snapchat users unless they chose to subscribe or search for him. 

The big picture: Snapchat follows Twitter, Shopify and a few other platforms in permanently banning Donald Trump's account following last week's events.

  • Last week, Snapchat was the first platform to announce it was indefinitely suspending Trump's account. Many other platforms have put temporary restrictions on his account.

Be smart: Snapchat has been able to avoid most of the regulatory and industry pressure around misinformation, in part because it has stricter standards around the way it polices content.

  • The app has no public newsfeed for unvetted content to go viral and keeps user-generated content physically separated from the professional, vetted content in Snapchat's Discover section.
  • Snapchat also routinely blocks certain keywords, like "Stop the Steal," from showing up in its search bar.

What to watch: The Capitol siege has already begun to ignite a conversation around how social media platforms are structured and monitored.

  • While Snapchat is smaller than platforms like Facebook and Google, its architecture has proven to be effective both in limiting misinformation at scale and preventing bad actors from congregating and planning real-world violence.

Go deeper: Snapchat locks Trump's account amid chaos in Washington

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