January 9, 2021

Twitter permanently suspends Trump, capping online revolt

Oakland/Jan,9: Twitter said on Friday that it had permanently suspended President Trump from its service “due to the risk of further incitement of violence,” effectively cutting him off from his favorite megaphone for reaching the public and capping a series of actions by mainstream sites to limit his online reach.
Twitter said in a blog post that Mr. Trump’s personal @realDonaldTrump account, which has more than 88 million followers, would be suspended immediately. The company said two tweets that Mr. Trump had posted on Friday — one calling his supporters “patriots” and another saying he would not go to the presidential inauguration on Jan. 20 — violated its rules against glorifying violence.
The tweets “were highly likely to encourage and inspire people to replicate the criminal acts that took place at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021,” Twitter said, referring to the storming of the Capitol by a mob of Trump loyalists.Within minutes, Trump’s account on Twitter was no longer accessible. His posts were replaced with a label: “Account suspended.” Trump tried to evade the ban late Friday by using the @POTUS Twitter account, which belongs to sitting U.S. presidents, as well as other accounts to lash out at the company. But almost all of his messages were almost immediately removed by Twitter. The company forbids users to try avoiding a suspension with secondary accounts.The moves were a forceful repudiation by Twitter of Trump, who had used the platform to build his base and spread his messages, which were often filled with falsehoods and threats. Trump regularly tweeted dozens of times a day, sending flurries of messages in the early morning or late evening. In his posts, he gave his live reactions to television news programs, boosted supporters and attacked his perceived enemies.
“Twitter’s permanent suspension of Trump’s Twitter account is long overdue,” said Shannon McGregor, a senior researcher at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “This is the key de-platforming for Trump. The inability to tweet cuts off his direct access to the press — and, by extension, the public.” In a statement late Friday, Trump said Twitter was trying to silence him. He said he was negotiating with other sites and promised a “big announcement soon,” adding that he was looking at building “our own platform.”“Twitter is not about FREE SPEECH,” Mr. Trump said. “They are all about promoting a Radical Left platform where some of the most vicious people in the world are allowed to speak freely.”
A day earlier, Facebook had barred Mr. Trump for the rest of his term, and other digital platforms — including Snapchat, YouTube, Twitch and Reddit — also recently limited Mr. Trump on their services. The actions were a stark illustration of the power of the social media companies and how they could act almost unilaterally when they chose. For years, Twitter, Facebook and other platforms had positioned themselves as defenders of free speech and had said the posts of world leaders like Trump should be allowed because they were newsworthy. The companies had rejected touching his account, even after they were assailed for allowing misinformation and falsehoods to flow. Twitter decided to permanently suspend Trump as it faced pressure from lawmakers, its own employees and many others, including Michelle Obama. Other politicians and world leaders also have posted incendiary tweets, raising questions of whether Twitter had started down a slippery slope and would have to take down other accounts.On Friday, the company also permanently suspended the accounts of several prominent Trump supporters who used the platform to spread conspiracy theories, including the lawyer Sidney Powell and President Trump’s former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn. Rush Limbaugh, the conservative talk show host, also appeared to deactivate his account.
Donald Trump Jr., Trump’s son, called Twitter’s move against his father “absolute insanity” and said the tech companies were overreaching. “We are living Orwell’s 1984,” he tweeted.Republican lawmakers renewed their calls to revoke legal protections for social media companies, taking aim at Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which shields the companies from liability for what their users post online. “It is now time for Congress to repeal Section 230 and put Big Tech on the same legal footing as every other company in America,” Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said on Friday.

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