Citing the “risk of further incitement of violence,” Twitter has permanently shut down President Trump’s account after his supporters’ violent insurrection and rampage on the Capitol.
Throughout his chaotic and tumultuous one term as president, Trump has used his account, which had amassed over 80 million followers, to connect with his MAGA supporters, blast perceived enemies, and spread lies, conspiracy theories, and racist diatribes.
He has credited his Twitter account with helping him get elected, as it afforded him a large platform to bypass mainstream media and share his thoughts directly with the American people. His Tweets would then go on to dominate mainstream media cycles.
Before Twitter permanently removed his account, Trump was just coming off of a 12-hour ban for Tweets the company deemed incendiary following the Pro-Trump rampage at the Capitol on Wednesday.
Twitter explained its reasoning for the permanent ban by highlighting the president’s last two tweets, which the company noted needed to be read together and in context with the violence that Trump already incited. The company noted how Trump’s tweet about not attending President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration could be seen as a dog whistle for MAGA mobs to target the inauguration:
The company’s statement read, in part:
“On January 8, 2021, President Donald J. Trump tweeted:
‘The 75,000,000 great American Patriots who voted for me, AMERICA FIRST, and MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN, will have a GIANT VOICE long into the future. They will not be disrespected or treated unfairly in any way, shape or form!!!‘
“Shortly thereafter, the President tweeted:
“’To all of those who have asked, I will not be going to the Inauguration on January 20th.‘
“The second Tweet may also serve as encouragement to those potentially considering violent acts that the Inauguration would be a ‘safe’ target, as he will not be attending.”
Many political and media pundits applauded Twitter’s ban and called it long overdue. But some have questioned how an increasingly isolated and unstable Trump might respond without his favorite media platform. Some Trump supporters have criticized the ban, stating that it violated Trump’s First Amendment rights. However, many legal experts and political pundits pointed out that the First Amendment applies to government entities. Twitter is a private company.
“The First Amendment is a constraint on the power of government. It doesn’t apply to Twitter,” Daphne Keller, an attorney and internet law expert at Stanford University’s Cyber Policy Center, told Business Insider. “Twitter is not a state actor.”
By night’s end on Friday, Twitter was engaged in a type of whack-a-mole with the president, as he attempted to jump to other Twitter accounts, like the official @Potus account, as well as the Twitter handles of some within his administration. The company moved swiftly to take down his Tweets.
It is believed that Trump will move to Parler, a social media platform without any moderation that has been a haven for right-wing conspiracy theorists, hate groups, and others who object to “Big Tech” restrictions.