NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Friday, January 8th, 2021

Trump’s deplatforming accelerates as Twitter finally bans him and several of his associates

Don­ald Trump’s tweet­ing days are over. Finally.

This after­noon, Twit­ter announced it’s per­ma­nent­ly banned him from the ser­vice after con­clud­ing that his most recent tweets vio­late its pol­i­cy against glo­ri­fy­ing vio­lence. Trump howled back through the @POTUS account, but Twit­ter, show­ing it means busi­ness, delet­ed all of those tweets. Twit­ter like­wise took down the TeamTrump account after it tried to repost mes­sages from Trump.

The ban is against Trump as a per­son and not mere­ly his @realDonaldTrump account, the com­pa­ny con­firmed, which was Trump’s prin­ci­pal mega­phone, estab­lished long before he became a pres­i­den­tial candidate.

Trump is pro­hib­it­ed from return­ing to Twit­ter using anoth­er han­dle or an alias.

“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 state­ment announc­ing its action.

“Our pub­lic inter­est frame­work [world lead­ers pol­i­cy] 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.”

Twit­ter also banned Don­ald Trump’s asso­ciates Michael Fly­nn and Sid­ney Pow­ell as well as Ron Watkins, who is thought by some to be behind the dis­turb­ing and dis­gust­ing “QAnon” con­spir­a­cy movement.

Trump was “indef­i­nite­ly” sus­pend­ed from Face­book and Insta­gram ear­li­er this week, with Mark Zucker­berg say­ing that the sus­pen­sion would last at least through Jan­u­ary 20th. Ama­zon-owned Twitch has also sus­pend­ed Trump.

These actions are long, long overdue.

“For months — years, real­ly — peo­ple have asked what it would take for Face­book and Twit­ter to ban the pol­i­cy-vio­la­tor-in-chief from their plat­forms. Hate speech, dox­ing, and dan­ger­ous dis­in­for­ma­tion on Covid evi­dent­ly weren’t enough,” observed Wired’s Steven Levy. “Oh, they put (easy-to-ignore) warn­ing labels on some tweets and posts, and even took the stray one down. But exil­ing him from the plat­forms? No. He is the pres­i­dent, after all.”

“That changed this week, when Don­ald Trump dis­patched a cos­play mob of thugs and toy sol­diers to take the Capi­tol — and they actu­al­ly did.”

“While he gave the actu­al march­ing orders in per­son, the invaders who came to Wash­ing­ton were fed by Trump’s avalanche of false claims and incite­ments on social media, hard­ly mit­i­gat­ed by warn­ing labels or notices that oth­er, per­haps more reli­able sources were report­ing some­thing else.”

As Levy argues, the Trump bans won’t fix the ills that are plagu­ing social net­works like Face­book and Twit­ter, even if they will make it hard­er for Trump to incite vio­lence and spread mis­in­for­ma­tion or disinformation.

Don­ald Trump’s cam­paign YouTube chan­nel remains up as of press time, but it has not released any new videos recently.

Mean­while, Par­ler — the any­thing-goes social net­work that has become a haven for Trump fans and right wing extrem­ists — has been warned by Google and Apple to start polic­ing its plat­form and mod­er­ate con­tent. Google has already sus­pend­ed Par­ler from Google Play and Apple has threat­ened to remove Par­ler from the App Store if the com­pa­ny does­n’t respond to its demands with­in twen­ty-four hours.

Trump fans are furi­ous that Trump has been banned, as is to be expect­ed, with some false­ly assert­ing that it is uncon­sti­tu­tion­al or a vio­la­tion of the First Amend­ment for Twit­ter to ban Trump. They are incorrect.

The First Amend­ment con­strains the gov­ern­ment from restrict­ing free speech, not pri­vate­ly owned social net­works. Twit­ter is a cor­po­ra­tion that oper­ates a mas­sive online bul­letin board. For bet­ter or worse, Twit­ter and oth­er social net­works are allowed under our free enter­prise sys­tem to large­ly decide what their busi­ness prac­tices will be, and they have decid­ed Don­ald Trump is bad for business.

They have every right to give him the boot, and they have.

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