Donald Trump deserves his social media suspension


Donald Trump, pictured on the left, has been permentaly banned from Twitter and many other social media platforms. As some criticize these tech companies, many applaud the ban of the former president.

Zaina Saif

On Friday, Jan. 9, Twitter announced that it had permanently banned then President Donald Trump from service due to the risk of further incitement of violence. Trump’s eviction from Twitter quickly set off a chain of suspensions on other social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitch and Snapchat.

The two tweets that ultimately pushed Twitter to permanently ban Donald Trump didn’t look different from the thousands of others he sent during his presidency.

The first tweet was addressed to his supporters: “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!!!” The second tweet indicated Trump did not plan to attend Joe Biden’s inauguration, saying “I will not be going to the Inauguration on January 20th.”

The big tech company said in a blog post that “these two 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.”

After Twitter acted, Facebook suspended Trump from posting for 24 hours and deleted two posts. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a statement that they would be extending Trump’s ban until “the peaceful transition of power is complete.”

Twitter and Facebook have allowed Trump to use their platforms as his very dangerous megaphone. The people of the United States of America have been begging these private companies to disempower an American president using their platform to incite terrorist insurrection. The accounts’ removal is the farthest the platforms have gone in restricting Trump from broadcasting his message directly to his tens of millions of followers. The move came after years of calls for social media companies to do more to stop the president from spreading misinformation, conspiracy theories and threats that undermine democracy.

The events of Jan. 6 were a glaring sign that the risk of violence was much greater than the necessity to continue giving a sitting President a social media presence. It became obvious that sometimes a democratically-elected leader can intentionally undermine democracy with inflammatory speech and a large platform.

Conservatives weren’t happy and bemoaned what they called “undue censorship” and control of free speech by big tech. As they accused the big tech companies of obstructing the right to free speech, they failed to recognize that many private companies have loopholes to free speech rules to prevent violence from happening. Until now, Trump has gotten away with little more than a slap on the wrist for using his platforms to incite hatred and terror.

The same week, Twitter purged 70,000 more accounts that had affiliations with QAnon, a disproven and discredited far-right, pro-Trump conspiracy theory. QAnon and its adherents were instrumental in Trump’s drive to overturn the November election, which he lost decisively. Supporters of the conspiracy, who Trump once said were “people who loved our country,” were pictured with QAnon banners as they broke into the Capitol building. Leading Republicans lost thousands of followers and conservatives continued to decry the unchecked power of tech companies.

Aside from being able to avoid a repeat of the events that occurred at the Capitol, Trump’s eviction from social media resulted in a significant decrease in online misinformation. Research from Zignal Labs shows that misinformation about election fraud plunged 73% after several social media sites suspended President Trump. This highlights the power tech companies have in limiting the falsehoods which poison online political discourse.

The bans against Donald Trump serve as a fitting end to a lazy spewing of hate. President Trump incited the violent riots at the Capitol using social media and paid the price. His recklessness online may be what finally creates regulations for the entire tech industry.