Banning of President Trump

After the breach of the Capitol on January 6, 2021, several social media platforms banned President Trump, alleging his rhetoric was inflammatory and could incite further violence.

Updated:
Aug 8, 2022
| Published:
Aug 8, 2022
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Basics of Twitter

Twitter is a microblogging and social networking service where users make character-limited posts called tweets. The short-form posts are what make Twitter unique compared to other platforms. Twitter has become one of the most politically charged social media platforms due to the prominence of President Donald Trump and subsequent politicians on the site. Tweets from political actors have been headlines of major news stories, altered the state of public affairs, and sparked intensifying political conversations. The ability for users to rapidly give short opinions on trending topics has fueled many modern political debates. Due to this rapidly evolving nature, Twitter has attempted to stop the spread of misinformation by creating a strike policy. One strike acts as a warning, while five or more can lead to temporary or permanent suspension of an account. 

The Trump Tweets

Following a tumultuous election cycle in 2020, Twitter banned the sitting President of the United States, Donald Trump. The banning came after the events of January 6, 2021, when supporters of President Trump gathered at and entered the Capitol building, disrupting the certification of the election. Trump’s tweets that afternoon resulted in his suspension from the platform. This contemporary guide will cover events leading up to his banning, the tweets in question, and the response from both sides of the political aisle.

Following the events of January 6, 2021, where supporters of President Trump gathered at the Capitol and forcefully entered the building, disrupting the certification of the election, sitting President Donald Trump published two tweets, resulting in his permanent suspension from Twitter. The tweets are listed below:

Trump says Americans who voted for him 'will not be disrespected in any way'  - Mirror Online
“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!!!”
“To all of those who have asked, I will not be going to the Inauguration on January 20th.”

Twitter defended the banning stating that the context around the tweets risked further incitement of violence. Twitter believed that the President’s supporters would perceive the statement of a “GIANT VOICE” as confirmation that the 2020 election was illegitimate. Advocates of the President, who saw the banning as unfair, pointed to a video he posted several hours after protestors breached the Capitol on January 6, where he tells supporters to “go home peacefully.” 

The U.S. House of Representatives subsequently filed articles of impeachment for the second time in the Trump presidency over these alleged incitements of violence. The Trump ban swept through additional platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, and Twitch. Facebook removed an interview between Trump and his daughter Lara in the following months, saying the original two-year suspension extended to the President’s voice. Click here for a complete list of platforms that have banned Donald Trump.

Under Post Fact Checks (2020)

In 2020, social media platforms began including fact-checks and links to broader conversations underneath algorithmically specific posts. The fact-checks started when Twitter marked one of President Trump’s tweets as “potentially misleading.” Social media platforms now include links to additional curated information about Covid-19, voter fraud, challenges to the 2020 election, and more. 

Leading up to the 2020 election, Twitter had previously removed tweets on election fraud by President Trump, which were then reposted on the rising app Parler. On November 8, 2020, when all major media outlets had called the presidential election for Joe Biden, Parler became the most downloaded app in the country. 

Parler (2018)

Parler is a social media network that prided itself on free speech and data protection. It appeals to many conservatives who may disagree with the ToS and guidelines of mainstream platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. 

Citing “violent content,” Amazon Web Services, the Google Play store, and Apple’s Appstore removed Parler from their services in January 2021. Supporters of the President saw this as a coordinated move to stop him from switching full-time to the rising Twitter alternative. Since then, calls have been made to reform Section 230 and create alternative social media platforms.

Discussion Questions

  1. Some social media platforms opted for a temporary ban, unlike Twitter’s permanent suspension of President Trump’s account. Do you believe this was a more appropriate response?
  2. Do you believe that President Trump’s rhetoric on these platforms could incite further violence?
  3. Should social media platforms be able to ban users’ accounts?

History

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Narratives

Left Narrative

On the day of the riot at the U.S. Capitol, President Donald Trump’s tweets incited violence and, more importantly, failed to quell the insurrection. Twitter had every right to ban the President after he violated their ToS multiple times. Social media companies need to continue to take steps to remove content from users that may incite violence, especially if these users are elected officials who may influence large numbers of people.

Right Narrative

Social media platforms have consistently removed content, banned users, and suspended accounts for their conservative beliefs. The social media monopoly wants to silence ideas they disagree with. Banning a sitting president shows how much power social media platforms have over the United States. As outlined in the Constitution, we must end the unchecked power of this unelected organization.

Bipartisan Narrative

Social media platforms have consistently removed content, banned users, and suspended accounts for their conservative beliefs. The social media monopoly wants to silence ideas they disagree with. Banning a sitting president shows how much power social media platforms have over the United States. As outlined in the Constitution, we must end the unchecked power of this unelected organization.

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