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.