Twitter permanently suspends Trump, citing risk of violence
Twitter has permanently suspended U.S. President Donald Trump’s account, the social media company announced Friday, citing the risk of “incitement of violence.”
“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,” Twitter said in a statement.
Trump was locked out of his account on his preferred social media platform for 12 hours earlier this week after a violent mob loyal to him stormed the U.S. Capitol to try to stop Congress from affirming president-elect Joe Biden’s victory.
Trump posted a video on Twitter calling the mob “very special” people and saying he loved them. Five people died, including a Capitol Police officer.
“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 on Friday.
Twitter’s move deprives Trump of a potent tool he has used to communicate directly with people for more than a decade. He has used Twitter to announce policy changes, challenge opponents, insult enemies, praise his allies — and himself — and to spread misinformation.
Later Friday evening, Trump used his @POTUS account to send out a series of tweets venting his frustration over his ban. In the tweets, he criticized Twitter and said he will look at building his own platform — before Twitter took down the posts.
Facebook said earlier this week it was suspending Trump’s account through until at least the end of his presidential term. He is due to hand over to Biden on Jan. 20.
Twitter has long given Trump and other world leaders broad exemptions from its rules against personal attacks, hate speech and other behaviours. But in a detailed explanation posted on its blog Friday, the company said recent Trump tweets amounted to glorification of violence when read in the context of the Capitol riot and plans circulating online for future armed protests around Biden’s inauguration.
In those tweets, Trump stated that he will not be attending the inauguration and referred to his supporters as “American Patriots,” saying they will have “a GIANT VOICE long into the future.”
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Twitter said these statements “are likely to inspire others to replicate the violent acts that took place on Jan. 6, 2021, and that there are multiple indicators that they are being received and understood as encouragement to do so.”
The company said “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 Jan. 17, 2021.”
Twitter said its policy enables world leaders to speak to the public but that these accounts “are not above our rules entirely” and can’t use Twitter to incite violence. Trump had roughly 89 million followers.
Loyalists banned amid QAnon purge
Earlier, the company banned Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn and pro-Trump attorney Sidney Powell as part of a purge of QAnon accounts following Wednesday’s attack on the Capitol.
Dozens of QAnon social media accounts were hyping up Jan. 6 in the days leading up to a Washington rally for Trump, expressing hope that Biden’s victory would be overturned.
“Given the renewed potential for violence surrounding this type of behaviour in the coming days, we will permanently suspend accounts that are solely dedicated to sharing QAnon content,” Twitter said in an email statement Friday.
The company says that when it determines a group or campaign is engaged in “coordinated harmful activity,” it may suspend accounts that it finds primarily encourages that behaviour.
Twitter also said Trump attorney Lin Wood was permanently suspended Tuesday for violating its rules, but provided no additional details.
Adherents of QAnon, a baseless conspiracy theory, believe claims by one or more unidentified people posting on internet message boards under the name “Q” who say that Trump is secretly fighting a cabal of child-sex predators that includes powerful U.S. elites.
Parler under pressure
Also on Friday, Google suspended the Parler social networking app from its Play Store until the app adds “robust” content moderation, while Apple gave the service 24 hours to submit a detailed moderation plan.
Parler is a social network to which many Trump supporters have migrated after being banned from services including Twitter.
In a statement, Google cited continued posts on Parler that seek “to incite ongoing violence in the U.S.”
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“For us to distribute an app through Google Play, we do require that apps implement robust moderation for egregious content. In light of this ongoing and urgent public safety threat, we are suspending the app’s listings from the Play Store until it addresses these issues,” the statement read.
In a letter from Apple’s App Store review team to Parler seen by Reuters, Apple cited instances of participants using the service to make plans to descend on Washington with weapons after a mob stormed the U.S. Capitol building on Wednesday.
“Content that threatens the well-being of others or is intended to incite violence or other lawless acts has never been acceptable on the App Store,” Apple said in the letter.
Apple gave Parler 24 hours to “remove all objectionable content from your app … as well as any content referring to harm to people or attacks on government facilities now or at any future date.” The company also demanded that Parler submit a written plan “to moderate and filter this content” from the app.
Apple declined to comment.