I’ve been thinking about a few things lately. Mad things like, “imagine someone travelled from the past to today and saw some of our headlines”. Actually, it’s a bit like some of the Back to the Future movies if I’m honest. You could argue that some of the real headlines are too unrealistic for Hollywood. Another lands today as social media giant, Twitter, finally suspended Donald Trump from their platform.
Donald Trump Suspended From Twitter
Twitter has had a long history with Donald Trump. Today they suspended the United States president from the platform. The reason? Well, it’s obvious. Following the riots on Capitol Hill which were driven by the 45th US president, the social media platform has decided the likelihood of Trump instigating further violence is too great. Twitter has finally twigged that when you platform hate, it leads to violence.
Trump’s Temporary Ban
Immediately following the riots, Twitter handed Trump a 12 hour ban after removing his tweets which were deemed to be inviting violence.
A spokesperson from Twitter said that “after the Tweets were removed and the subsequent 12-hour period expired, access to @realDonaldTrump was restored”. They also said that “any future violations of the Twitter Rules, including our Civic Integrity or Violent Threats policies, will result in permanent suspension of the @realDonaldTrump account.”
Trump’s Permanent Suspension
Being honest, after this short suspension, Trump wasn’t anywhere near his worst on Twitter when he returned. His first returning tweet was:
“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!!!”
This was followed by Trump throwing the last few toys out of the pram and saying he wouldn’t attend the inauguration of President Elect Joe Biden. However, regardless of their earlier statement, Twitter still moved on Friday and permanently suspended Trump from their platform.
The company said that “after close review of recent Tweets from the @realDonaldTrump account and the context around them we have permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence”. The social media platform continued to assert that “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”.
This came as the platform started to apply broader interpretations to Trump’s tweets. For example, that because he would not be attending the inauguration it would be another great time for a riot. A long shot which makes me think.
Too Little Too Late?
While it’s welcome that Twitter and indeed Facebook have taken the steps to kick Trump off their platforms removing his direct line to followers, it’s far too little too late.
I remember writing about this a long time ago, asking a simple question. “Why is Trump allowed to say things which breach Twitter’s policies and others are not”. Twitter’s answer was that he’s simply of political and public value. I’d argue he’s of the least value of anyone on the platform but offering the most danger, meaning he should be held to a higher account than anyone else.
Tonight, Twitter has joined the ranks of the many Republicans who’s milked Donald Trump (sorry for the graphic image or Kopfkino) for all he’s worth. Now, with his reputation finally in ruins and facing potential removal from office, Republicans are distancing themselves from Trump. Twitter is no different.
For more than the past four years, Twitter has enjoyed more activity than ever. Interest being driven largely by Donald Trump have over 80 million followers at his fingertips. People keep Twitter and are on Twitter purely to see what Trump did today. Now that he’s leaving office, Twitter finally takes action.
Sorry, but we need to expect more from our tech companies. While Facebook sets the morality and standards bar pretty low, that doesn’t mean Twitter gets to play the high almighty card just because they’re better.
Regardless, the good news is that he’s gone from Twitter. The bad news is that he still has control over the POTUS Twitter account. I guess the reason is for how long and will he even see out the rest of his term. Considering his administration took on Chinese social media platform Tiktok, there’s a certain irony that a clock is currently ticking in Trump’s ears.