Well, it finally happened.
A day after Facebook and Instagram (and Shopify and Twitch) announced they would no longer allow Donald Trump to post lies and incite violence on their platforms, Twitter has jumped on the bandwagon. “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,” reads a tweet released Friday on the Twitter Safety account.
“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,” continues the tweet thread, of course referencing the pro-Trump extremist mob that broke into the United States Capitol this week, which resulted in at least five deaths. “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. However, we made it clear going back years that these accounts are not above our rules and cannot use Twitter to incite violence. We will continue to be transparent around our policies and their enforcement.”
The permanent suspension comes after Twitter first removed two particularly egregious tweets by Trump in the midst of the attempted coup, then suspended the @realDonaldTrump account for 12 hours. Trump returned to the platform on Thursday with a video of him giving as close to a concession speech as we’re ever going to get, but by Friday he was back to stirring up his followers. “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,” he tweeted. “They will not be disrespected or treated unfairly in any way, shape or form!!!”
In a terrifying addition to their statement, Twitter broke down why they felt his recent tweets about not attending the inauguration may be dog whistles encouraging acts of violence:
- 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 (1, 2) by his Deputy Chief of Staff, Dan Scavino, that there would be an “orderly transition” on January 20th.
- 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 use of the words “American Patriots” to describe some of his supporters is also being interpreted as support for those committing violent acts at the US 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.
- Plans for future armed protests have already begun proliferating on and off-Twitter, including a proposed secondary attack on the US Capitol and state capitol buildings on January 17, 2021.
As such, our determination is that the two Tweets above are likely to inspire others to replicate the violent acts that took place on January 6, 2021, and that there are multiple indicators that they are being received and understood as encouragement to do so.
People have been calling for social media sites to stop giving Trump a direct platform for years. Two weeks before he leaves office was when we finally got it—though we guess this will hit him in the gut more than his impeachment did.