WASHINGTON — Twitter says it is banning President Donald Trump from its platform, citing “risk of further incitement of violence.”
On Friday afternoon, Trump’s Twitter account was changed to show an “Account suspended” message. The San Francisco social media giant, whose platform became the President’s favored method of public communication, which he used to make false claims of election fraud, tweeted an explanation that the suspension was permanent.
“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.”
A company blog post Friday added more information, linking the ban to the deadly insurrection Wednesday at the U.S. Capitol by a mob of Trump supporters driven by false claims the presidential election was rigged.
“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,” Twitter said. “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.”
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the President.
Twitter, which had suspended Trump’s account for 12 hours on Wednesday, provided an “overview” of the reasons for its permanent move against Trump, citing his tweets Friday after the suspension was lifted.
Trump had tweeted: “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 President followed up with: “To all of those who have asked, I will not be going to the Inauguration on January 20th.”
Because of “ongoing tensions in the United States, and an uptick in the global conversation in regards to the people who violently stormed the Capitol,” the two Trump 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,” Twitter said. The tweets violated its Glorification of Violence Policy, the company said.
That policy “aims to prevent the glorification of violence that could inspire others to replicate violent acts,” the company said. Twitter said it concluded the Friday tweets “were highly likely to encourage and inspire people to replicate the criminal acts that took place at the U.S. Capitol.”
Five people including Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, died from the violence in the seat of the U.S. government.
Twitter further broke down the tweets to explain why it believed they were dangerous, saying plans for future armed protests were already proliferating on its platform and elsewhere, including a secondary attack on the Capitol and state capitol buildings on January 17.
“President Trump’s statement that he will not be attending the Inauguration is being received by a number of his supporters as further confirmation that the election was not legitimate and is seen as him disavowing his previous claim made via two Tweets by his Deputy Chief of Staff, Dan Scavino, that there would be an ‘orderly transition’ on January 20th,” Twitter said.
“The second Tweet may also serve as encouragement to those potentially considering violent acts that the Inauguration would be a ‘safe’ target, as he will not be attending.”
The company went on to say Trump’s description of some supporters as “American Patriots” was also being taken as support for the people who committed violence at the Capitol.
“The mention of his supporters having a ‘GIANT VOICE long into the future’ and that ‘They will not be disrespected or treated unfairly in any way, shape or form!!!’ is being interpreted as further indication that President Trump does not plan to facilitate an ‘orderly transition’ and instead that he plans to continue to support, empower, and shield those who believe he won the election.”
Trump, after a mob stormed the Capitol to try to stop Congress from affirming President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, had posted a video on Twitter calling them “very special” people and saying he loved them.
In addition to banning the president’s account, the Twitter also announced Friday it would permanently suspend accounts pushing QAnon content, banning prominent right-wing boosters of its conspiracy theories including Michael Flynn and Sidney Powell following Wednesday’s storming of the U.S. Capitol by Trump supporters.
Flynn, a former national security adviser to Trump, and Powell, a former Trump campaign lawyer, have both been close allies of the president and promoted efforts to cast doubt about his defeat in the 2020 presidential election.
Twitter also suspended Ron Watkins, the administrator of fringe message board 8kun, which effectively serves as home base for the QAnon conspiracy movement.
“Given the renewed potential for violence surrounding this type of behavior in the coming days, we will permanently suspend accounts that are solely dedicated to sharing QAnon content,” Twitter said in a statement.
QAnon followers espouse an intertwined series of far-fetched beliefs based on anonymous web postings from “Q,” who claims to have insider knowledge of the Trump administration.
At the core of the baseless conspiracy theories embraced by QAnon is the idea that Trump is secretly fighting a cabal of child-sex predators that includes prominent Democrats, Hollywood elites and “deep state” allies.
QAnon has been amplified on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, the video streaming service of Alphabet Inc’s Google. Its adherents were among those who participated in the Capitol siege that left five people dead.
Facebook has blocked Trump, who faces possible impeachment for the second time as a result of alleged incitement of the Capitol insurrection, from posting at least until he’s scheduled to leave office Jan. 20.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.
Source: Orange County Register