Twitter said it issued a “permanent suspension” of Donald Trump’s account on Friday evening in the latest escalation by social media companies against a president they accuse of spreading misinformation and inciting violence.
In a post to the site, Twitter explained its decision to block Trump from sharing posts with his 88.7 million followers, citing the attack on the U.S. Capitol by a mob of pro-Trump supporters.
“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,” the company said. “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. 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 entirely and cannot use Twitter to incite violence, among other things,” the statement continued. “We will continue to be transparent around our policies and their enforcement.”
A day earlier, Facebook suspended Trump’s account on its platform for similar reasons. Initially, Twitter removed a handful of Trump’s tweets that came after the siege on the Capitol. For months it had flagged posts by the president that the site said contained misinformation.
Former first lady Michelle Obama posted a statement Thursday asking social media companies to permanently ban Trump from their platforms.
“Now is the time for Silicon Valley companies to stop enabling this monstrous behavior — and go even further than they have already by permanently banning this man from their platforms and putting in place policies to prevent their technology from being used by the nation’s leaders to fuel insurrection,” Obama wrote in her statement.
In its explanation for its reasons for suspending Trump’s account, Twitter cited two of the president’s tweets on Friday it said were “highly likely to encourage and inspire people to replicate the criminal acts that took place at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.”
“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!!!” Trump wrote in the first.
The second tweet read, “To all of those who have asked, I will not be going to the Inauguration on January 20th.”
While by Trump’s incendiary standards these tweets seemed somewhat muted, Twitter said the context in which they were written caused them to run afoul of the company’s “Glorification of violence” policy.
“Due to the ongoing tensions in the United States, and an uptick in the global conversation in regards to the people who violently stormed the Capitol on January 6, 2021, 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,” Twitter said in its post.
In reference to Trump’s first tweet, Twitter said it concluded that the language the president used made clear that he was not interested in an orderly transition of power.
“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,” the company said.
In the post about not attending Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20, Twitter believes Trump was signaling his supporters that he did not consider his successor to have been duly elected.
“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 Jan. 20.
Twitter has long been Trump’s favorite means of speaking directly to his supporters. He often bragged that, thanks to social media, he didn’t need what he called the “fake news media” to spread his message.
While Trump’s personal account had been suspended, the president still had access to an audience on Twitter through the @POTUS and @WhiteHouse accounts, but Twitter said it would monitor those and take action to limit their use if the president attempted to use the for “the purposes of evading a ban.”
The president reportedly opened an account on Parler, a conservative alternative to Facebook and Twitter, in response to Twitter’s suspension. That site, however, had its own problems Friday. Apple warned that it would drop Parler from its App Store unless the company changed its moderation policies. Later in the day, Google removed Parler from Google Play, its app distribution hub, citing its lax moderation of posts.
Parler has attracted an audience angered by what they see as censorship from the leading social media companies and big tech. But posts on the site often call for violence against public officials and bigoted, sexist messages and conspiracy theories are common.
As of Friday at approximately 6:30 p.m. ET, Trump’s feed on Twitter was no longer visible, and years of content were hidden from view.