Twitter has banned outgoing US president Donald Trump permanently from its platform, after he tweeted with cryptic messages of support to his supporters, calling them “American patriots”. Twitter’s ban, which follows an earlier temporary suspension that lasted till Friday, was put in place after Trump reportedly incited a violent attack by a mob on the US Capitol building earlier this week. Other social media platforms have also take similar actions — Facebook has banned Trump from its platform indefinitely, at least until the remainder of his term; Snapchat also blocked Trump’s account for incitement of violence.
After close review of recent Tweets from the @realDonaldTrump account and the context around them we have permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence.https://t.co/CBpE1I6j8Y
— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) January 8, 2021
‘Risk of further incitement of violence’
In a statement issued Friday, Twitter said that a review of Trump’s recent tweets from his personal @realDonaldTrump account were suspended “due to the risk of further incitement of violence”. It said that accounts such as Trump’s were not above its rules, and that the platform could not be used to incite violence.
In his tweets that prompted the ban, Trump had exclaimed that 75 million “American Patriots” had voted from him, who “would have a GIANT VOICE long into the future”. He added that he would not be attending Biden’s inauguration on January 20.
Twitter explained that these two tweets had to be read in the broader context of the events that had transpired at the US Capitol and elsewhere in the country. It said that Trump’s statements could be mobilised by people to incite violence. “After assessing the language in these Tweets against our Glorification of Violence policy, we have determined that these Tweets are in violation of the Glorification of Violence Policy and the user @realDonaldTrump should be immediately permanently suspended from the service.”
- Trump’s questioning election’s legitimacy: Twitter said that Trump’s refusal to attend the inauguration (which will reportedly be the first such case in 152 years) would be seen by his supporters as confirmation that the election was not legitimate, and that he is disavowing his commitment to an “orderly transition”. It said that this could also encourage violent acts at the inauguration, which would be a “safe” target since Trump wouldn’t be there.
- ‘American patriots’: The use of these words, Twitter said, would be interpreted as support for those involved in the violence at the US Capitol.
- Supporting those who believe Trump won: Trump’s first tweet, where he said his supporters would have a “GIANT VOICE” in the future indicated that Trump plans to continue supporting those who believe he won the election.
Additionally, Twitter also noted that there are widespread plans for future armed attacks on the US Capitol and state capitol buildings on January 17, 2021.
Twitter deletes tweets that evaded ban
Post the ban, Trump tried to evade the ban on him by tweeting from the US president’s official @POTUS account — which will be handed over to Joe Biden when he swears in later this month. According to The Verge’s report, Trump has tweeted at least four times, in which he criticised Twitter for “banning free speech”, accusing it of “promoting a Radical Left platform”. He also left a cryptic message, saying “…STAY TUNED”.
Twitter reportedly deleted the tweets, in line with its earlier stance that Trump wouldn’t be allowed to tweet from government accounts to evade the ban on him. Later in the evening, Trump’s statements were tweeted on the TeamTrump handle, which was also suspended subsequently.
Trump aides’ accounts also blocked: Twitter, meanwhile, has also blocked accounts belonging to Michael Flynn, Sidney Powell and other high-profile supporters. The bans happened as a part of an effort to crack down on misinformation and calls for violence, reported NBC News.
Ban on Facebook, Snapchat continues
Meanwhile, Trump continues to be banned from Facebook. Earlier this week, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that this decision was taken as the “risks of allowing the President to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great”. The ban will remain in place at least until the inauguration, and possibly extended beyond.
Snapchat on Wednesday evening, the day of the attack, locked Trump’s account. A spokesperson told Axios that this decision was taken as the account “promotes and spreads hate and incites violence’.