Twitter has permanently suspended the account of U.S. President Donald Trump in response to the events of recent days and his latest tweets.
The social network announced this on Saturday night via its Safety account. The account @realDonaldTrump most recently had almost 89 million followers and was used by Donald Trump as his most important communication channel.
Permanent block comes shortly after 12-hour block
The permanent blocking of the account comes as somewhat of a surprise in that Twitter had already temporarily and conditionally blocked the account for 12 hours on Wednesday, shortly after the events in the Capitol.
Reasons for the permanent blocking
The reason for the permanent blocking of the account, according to Twitter, were now two other tweets from the U.S. presidents. They say:
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.
In the wake of the current heated mood in the country, Twitter rates these statements as dangerous, as they could lead to further violence.
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
Among other things, because the non-participation in the inauguration could be another signal to Trump’s supporters that the election did not proceed in an orderly manner and also did not indicate that Trump was serious about the promise of an orderly handover.
In addition, Twitter speaks of “plans for future armed protests” that are already piling up – both on the network and elsewhere. Twitter mentions, among other things, a second “attack on the U.S. Capitol (…) on January 17, 2021.” The network does not give more specific details.
The exact process, including the individual assessments that the social network made regarding these two tweets, has been documented by Twitter on its in-house blog.
Accounts of politicians “are not above the rules”
Also interesting in this context is what Twitter writes about accounts of elected politicians and heads of state: According to the “Public Interest Framework,” these accounts have a special position on the platform. If only because even tweets that violate Twitter’s rules are of great public interest.
In their blog post, however, they now clarify “that these accounts are not completely above our rules and may not use Twitter to incite violence.” Twitter is positioning itself as if this has always been clear. Among other things, the network talks about having been stating this so clearly for years.
And yet the consistent step of blocking the Trump account comes as quite a surprise when you look at the inaction of the network in recent years. For this reason, many users criticize that the Trump blocking comes too late.
What does the blocking mean for Trump…?
The blocking of the Twitter account is likely to be a heavy hit for Donald Trump. After all, he has often stressed that he sees no point in talking to journalists when he can be his own media outlet. The nearly 89 million followers and the omnipresent media response to his latest tweets prove him right in this.
Twitter has already stressed to CNN that the suspension is tied to his person, not just his account. If he tries to express himself with another account on Twitter, CNN reports a statement from a Twitter spokesperson, that account will be blocked as well.
Excluded from this is probably the official @POTUS account of the White House, which Trump loses on January 20 anyway. This will then be handed over to his successor Joe Biden, as it was also handed over from Barack Obama to Donald Trump in 2017.
… and for the social networks?
For the social networks, the recent events mean once again that they bear a great responsibility. They cannot absolve themselves of this even after the blocking. More such cases will follow, and once again the question will arise: How to deal with it? When to react?
In addition to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitch have also blocked Trump accounts, and accounts of other people and some Shopify stores have been closed.
As “Social Media Watchblog” founder Martin Fehrensen asks, “What if Big Tech is no longer so dominant on the liberal left?” While he thinks the move is right, he also finds it “scary how much power Big Tech has.” And:
If Trump now switches to Parler or Telegram (…), the world won’t be helped either. There is a threat of digital parallel societies.
Trump will no longer be able to take place himself on Twitter. And yet many questions remain unanswered. About the power of social networks. About their responsibility. About their handling of this responsibility in the past. And especially in the future.