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Twitter has permanently suspended President Donald Trump’s account “due to the risk of further incitement of violence” two days after his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol building during a deadly riot.
The Jack Dorsey-led company has faced criticism over its handling of Trump’s personal account, from which he regularly shared misinformation and threats of violence with his more than 88 million followers. During the four years of Trump’s presidency, the company often cited his position as an elected official, and thus the “public interest value” of his tweets, as the reason it did not suspend his account for violating its rules.
But the company said that two of Trump’s Friday tweets, when considered in the context of Wednesday’s attack on Capitol Hill, were “highly likely to encourage and inspire people to replicate” similar violent acts.
Trump wrote in one tweet that his supporters would have a “giant voice long into the future” and “will not be disrespected or treated unfairly in any way, shape or form.” In another, he said we would not be attending Joe Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration.
Twitter said those 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.”
Later on Friday, Trump sent several tweets from the @POTUS account protesting the social platform’s actions, but the tweets soon were soon taken down by Twitter. In a screenshot preserved by CNBC, the tweets read: “As I have been saying for a long time, Twitter has gone further and further in banning free speech, and tonight, Twitter employees have coordinated with the Democrats and the Radical Left in removing my account from their platform, to silence me — and YOU, the 75,000,000 great patriots who voted for me.” The tweets then called for repealing Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act and said Trump and his allies were “look[ing] at the possibility of building out our own platform” as well as holding discussions with other platforms.
In a statement to THR, a Twitter spokesperson said, “As we’ve said, using another account to try to evade a suspension is against our rules. We have taken steps to enforce this with regard to recent Tweets from the @POTUS account. For government accounts, such as @POTUS and @WhiteHouse, we will not suspend those accounts permanently but will take action to limit their use.”
The permanent suspension follows Twitter’s Wednesday decision to temporarily ban Trump’s account after he urged his supporters to descend on Congress during the certification of Joe Biden’s election victory. Though Trump urged the rioters to go home in one video message, he also stated his support for them and reiterated false claims about the outcome of the election. Twitter said at the time that the suspension would be temporary and that his account would be reinstated after he removed three tweets. He was able to begin tweeting again the following day.
Facebook, which issued a similar temporary ban on Trump’s account on Wednesday, followed that move with the Thursday decision to block him from using his Facebook and Instagram accounts indefinitely for at least the final two weeks of his presidency.
Borat actor Sacha Baron Cohen, who has been vocal in recent days about the need for the tech giants to cut off Trump’s social media platform, tweeted enthusiastically on Friday about the Twitter ban. “We did it,” he wrote.
Trump’s official account as president, @POTUS, remains active. He used that account, which has 33 million followers, far less frequently and rarely for the type of off-the-cuff missives that he was known for firing off from his personal account. (Its most recent activity was a Dec. 23 retweet of the main White House account’s post about the lighting of the national Christmas tree.) The @POTUS account will transfer to Biden at the time of his inauguration.
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.https://t.co/CBpE1I6j8Y
— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) January 8, 2021
Jan. 8, 6:03 p.m. Updated with @POTUS tweets and Twitter statement.
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