Twitter on Friday took the unprecedented step of banning President Trump from the platform “permanently” — less than two weeks before he leaves office.
“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 shortly after 6 p.m.
The decision comes after Wednesday’s US Capitol siege in which five people were killed when thousands of pro-Trump supporters unhappy with the election stormed Congress.
“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 statement continued.
“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. We will continue to be transparent around our policies and their enforcement.”
The president’s team immediately fired-back, calling the move “disgusting.”
“Disgusting. Big Tech wants to cancel all 75M @realDonaldTrump supporters. If you don’t think they’re coming for you next, you’re wrong,” wrote Trump campaign senior adviser Jason Miller.
But Twitter is not the first social media company to ban the president in the wake of the violent episode.
On Thursday, Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg announced he had banned Trump from using the platform until after he leaves office on Jan. 20, saying he had used his platform to “condone rather than condemn the actions of his supporters.”
“The shocking events of the last 24 hours clearly demonstrate that President Donald Trump intends to use his remaining time in office to undermine the peaceful and lawful transition of power to his elected successor, Joe Biden,” wrote Zuckerberg in a post on his personal Facebook account.
Twitter temporarily locked the president’s account on Wednesday for tweets that appeared to glorify the invasion of the Capitol by his supporters who violently interrupted a joint session of Congress to confirm Joe Biden’s win.
Trump was allowed back on the platform on Friday morning and fired-off an unapologetic missive saying his followers would not be silenced.
“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!!!” he wrote.
He also said he would not be attending Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration.
It were these two tweets which triggered Twitter’s decision to permanently block the president, the platform’s most prolific user.
“[W]e have determined that these Tweets are in violation of the Glorification of Violence Policy and the user @realDonaldTrump should be immediately permanently suspended from the service,” the statement continued.
Earlier Friday, Twitter booted two of Trump’s allies, former Gen. Mike Flynn and lawyer Sidney Powell, from the site for backing his claims that election fraud handed victory to Biden.
Dozens of other followers of the fringe Q-Anon conspiracy theory were also barred.
Twitter began policing the president’s tweets in the lead up to the election last year, slapping them with warning labels or masking them altogether as he railed against Black Lives Matter protests or claims of election fraud.
The unprecedented censorship drew accusations of political bias from conservatives, leading to fiery big tech hearings on Capitol Hill.
Infuriated by the masking of his tweets, Trump went to war with social media companies and signed an executive order in May last year aimed at curtailing their Section 230 legal liability protections.
“A small handful of powerful social media monopolies had unchecked power to censure, restrict, edit, shape, hide, alter virtually any form of communication between private citizens or large public audiences,” the commander in chief said in an Oval Office address.
Supporters of the president pointed out the hypocrisy of Twitter’s ban, noting the fact that tweets from dictators like Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei calling for the destruction of Israel were still online.
“Khamenei, Rouhani & Zarif’s Twitter accts are still active,” wrote GOP NY Rep. Lee Zeldin.
“Their regime pledges Death to America, calling us the Great Satan, Chinese Communist Party officials who say Coronavirus was sent to China by the US military aren’t suspended, but Twitter bans the President of the USA.”
Added Colorado GOP Rep. Ken Buck: “Twitter turns a blind eye at Chinese propaganda and modern day slavery, but draws the line at the President of the United States’ tweets.
So what options does the president have now? Conservative have begun using an alternative to Twitter called Parler, which was founded in August 2018 and claims to be a “free speech” an unbiased alternative to mainstream platforms.
On Friday, Kentucky Republican Congressman Thomas Massie encouraged his followers to join him there.
“I’m ThomasMassie on Parler if @jack’s social cleansing takes out my account here,” he wrote with the hashtag “#AllHailJack,” a reference to Twitter founder, Jack Dorsey.
Five people died in the Capitol break-in, including four Trump supporters and a US Capitol Police officer, Brian Sicknick, 42, who reportedly was bludgeoned with a fire extinguisher.
Trump permanently suspended from Twitter after Capitol siege The British Journal Editors and Wire Services/ New York Post.