On Friday, January 8th Twitter permanently banned Donald Trump’s account @realDonaldTrump. This action followed a series of exceedingly controversial tweets by @realDonaldtrump after the storming of the U.S. Capitol.
The incident started on Wednesday, January 6th when the U.S. Senate started certifying the electoral college votes from the Presidential election. 11 minutes after the certification began, Trump encouraged his supporters to march on the U.S. Capitol and tweeted “You will never take back our country with weakness.” Vice President Pence presided over the tallying of electoral college votes in the Senate and stated that he doesn’t have the authority to overturn the election results. Trump responded to this statement by tweeting “We’re going to have to fight much harder.” Early that afternoon, a violent mob of rioters breached the walls of the U.S. Capitol and stormed its halls in an attempt to prevent the certification of the presidential election.
Rather than denouncing the action of the mob Trump justified their actions by tweeting “These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long.”
Subsequently, Twitter shut down his account for 12 hours and issued a warning. However, President Trump ignored the warning and proceeded to make two more posts on Friday, January 8th. In his first post, he called the rioters “American Patriots” and said that these rioters will have a “giant voice in the future.” He then tweeted his refusal to attend President-elect Biden’s inauguration, which will take place on January 20th.
In light of these recent events, Twitter claimed that Trump’s verbatim incited violence and violated Twitter’s Glorification of Violence Policy. They also said that no government official, even the U.S. president, are excused from following the rules and policies of the platform. According to Reuters, “It was the first time Twitter has banned a head of state.” Not only did Twitter suspend Trump’s Twitter account, but it also suspended Trump’s campaign account @TeamTrump and deleted some of his posts on @POTUS.
Trump has used Twitter as its main source of communication both during his campaign and presidency, and according to Times of India, he sometimes posted over 100 tweets a day. Some claim that one of the main reasons Trump won the presidency was because of his extensive use of Twitter.
Some claim that Trump’s violent rhetoric has been ongoing for years and he used Twitter as a platform to spread misinformation at an increasingly faster pace. Actor Mark Ruffalo thanked Twitter for finally deleting Trump’s account and Mark Warner, a Democratic senator from Virginia, wrote that this action is “long overdue.” Critics have called for the deletion of Trump’s Twitter account for some time.
Some claim that Twitter is violating Trump’s freedom of speech. Donald Trump Jr. compared this action to the censorship prevalent in George Orwell’s 1984. A former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley and Senator Lindsey Graham from South Carolina also denounced Twitter’s action claiming it to be a form of censorship.
Twitter was not the only social media platform that banned Trump’s account. Facebook indefinitely suspended Trump, at least until the end of his Presidential term. Youtube issued strikes for posts that referenced voter fraud or contained misinformation. Snapchat and Instagram, Reddit, and Twitch also indefinitely suspended Trump’s account but did not specify for how long.