“After close review of recent Tweets from the @realDonaldTrump account and the context around them — specifically how they are being received and interpreted on and off Twitter — we have permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence,” the company said in a statement.
Trump, who at last count had 88.7 million followers on Twitter — his favored social platform — was “deplatformed” by the company after years of critics calling for the social network to ban Trump based on what they pointed out was egregious and dangerous behavior by the president that routinely violated Twitter’s rules.
On Wednesday, Jan. 6, Trump had egged on and praised mob of loyalists who invaded the U.S. Capitol building with the intent of disrupting the certification of Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election. Twitter had temporarily suspended Trump’s account over three of his tweets that the company said were “repeated and severe violations of our Civic Integrity policy” and warned that any future violation of its rules would result in a permanent suspension. The tweets in question included Trump’s video message to rioters in Washington, D.C., in which he told them to go home — and also said “We love you, you’re very special” and repeated baseless assertions that the U.S. presidential election was fraudulent. Trump’s Twitter account had been reinstated Thursday after those tweets were deleted.
The riot at the U.S. Capitol resulted in at least five deaths and sparked calls for Trump to resign or be removed from office via the 25th Amendment or congressional impeachment.
After Twitter shut down the president’s personal account, Trump posted a series of tweets from the @POTUS account — which were quickly removed. “We will not be SILENCED! Twitter is not about FREE SPEECH. They are all about promoting a RADICAL LEFT platform where some of the most vicious people in the world are allowed to speak freely,” Trump wrote in the tweets.
The president also said, “We have been negotiating with various other sites… while we also look at the possibilities of building out our own platform in the near future.”
In a blog post, Twitter outlined the reasoning behind its decision to give perhaps its most famous power-user the boot — based on the final two tweets that led to the Trump ban.
The company noted that on Friday (Jan. 8), Trump had 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 afterward, he tweeted: “To all of those who have asked, I will not be going to the Inauguration on January 20th.”
Twitter said that because of “the ongoing tensions in the United States, and an uptick in the global conversation in regards to the people who violently stormed the Capitol on January 6, 2021, these two Tweets must be read in the context of broader events in the country and the ways in which the President’s statements can be mobilized by different audiences, including to incite violence, as well as in the context of the pattern of behavior from this account in recent weeks.”
According to Twitter, among the factors that weighed into its decision to ban Trump were that plans for “future armed protests have already begun proliferating on and off-Twitter, including a proposed secondary attack on the U.S. Capitol and state capitol buildings on January 17, 2021.” With respect to Trump’s second tweet, Twitter said the message could “serve as encouragement to those potentially considering violent acts that the Inauguration would be a ‘safe’ target, as he will not be attending.”
The company said that it determined that those two tweets by Trump violated its policy banning the glorification of violence, and that therefore “the user @realDonaldTrump should be immediately permanently suspended from the service.”
“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,” Twitter said Friday. “Our public interest framework 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.”
Since joining Twitter in March 2009, Trump had posted 59,600 tweets. None of those are publicly available on the service anymore.
Separately, Facebook earlier this week said it would freeze Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts indefinitely, and at least through the end of his presidential term. CEO Mark Zuckerberg also cited the risk of ongoing violence for that decision.
Meanwhile, Twitter also Friday permanently suspended the accounts of Trump lawyer Sidney Powell, Michael Flynn, the president’s former national security adviser who pleaded guilty to lying to investigators probing Russia’s connections with the Trump campaign (and who, Trump pardoned last November), and other supporters of the QAnon conspiracy theory. Twitter said that was because the users of those accounts violated the service’s policy prohibiting “coordinated harmful activity” that could to lead to “offline harm.”
In June 2019, Twitter adopted a policy for political figures like Trump, under which the platform leaves up tweets that would be violations for regular users but which the company considers to be in the “public interest.” Such tweets are hidden behind a warning label that requires users to click through to view them. In addition, posts flagged in that manner cannot be liked, commented on or retweeted.
In addition to the handful of cases where Twitter hid Trump’s tweets, the social network in the last two months appended hundreds of fact-checking labels to @realDonaldTrump’s posts with lies about the 2020 election including baseless claims of widespread voter fraud.
Commenting on Twitter’s ban of Trump, Jessica J. González, co-CEO of consumer-advocacy group Free Press and co-founder of anti-hate coalition Change the Terms, said: “Twitter’s decision to permanently suspend Donald Trump is a victory for racial-justice advocates who have long condemned his continued abuse of the platform… Today’s news, while a day late and a dollar short, is welcome. I urge other social-media companies to follow suit immediately.”
In a tweet Friday, Trump senior adviser Jason Miller wrote, “Disgusting. Big Tech wants to cancel all 75M @realDonaldTrump supporters. If you don’t think they’re coming for you next, you’re wrong.”