President Donald Trump’s personal account, @realDonaldTrump, has been struck with a total and absolute ban from Twitter just days after his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol building and just 12 days before he leaves office. The president, who relies upon Twitter as his personal communications platform of choice, was “permanently suspended” for risk of inciting further violence.
The president was previously suspended for a 12 hour period on Wednesday night into Thursday. The president made a brief return to Twitter on Thursday night when that ban was lifted. At the time, he shared a video reading prepared remarks condemning the Capitol Hill riot and insurrection after political figures from both major parties cited Trump for inciting the rampage that delayed Congress’s certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory. On Friday, Trump tweeted he would not be attending Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20.
“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 announced Friday evening. The account was immediately deactivated and users of the service can no longer even view the president’s past tweets.
Platforms’ long-held reluctance to act
Twitter has long resisted banning world leaders such as the president for their rule-breaking activity, choosing instead to shield offending tweets in warning labels. But on Friday, the company deemed that Trump had gone too far and permanently axed his account.
In the aftermath of Wednesday’s wreckage, Facebook, Snapchat and Twitch previously suspended Trump until after the election and Shopify banned his stores from its merchant platform.
Hundreds of Twitter employees signed a letter this week urging CEO Jack Dorsey to permanently ban Trump from its service, The Washington Post reported. The president used his personal Twitter account for official White House business—but he also routinely attacked enemies, spread misinformation, promoted conspiracy theories, amplified fringe activists, and incited violence.
A tweet this summer, in which the president wrote “when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” was a not-so-veiled threat of violence against Black Lives Matter protesters in Minneapolis, Minn. in the wake of George Floyd’s murder.
This time was different
Twitter said that constituted “glorifying violence” and, for the first time, hid Trump’s tweet behind a warning label. That action also removed metrics, likes and replies from Trump’s account.
Facebook’s inaction over the situation led to a reckoning in the social media industry, in which more than 1,000 advertisers boycotted the company over its policy toward hate speech. Since then, Facebook has been decidedly harsher against Trump, which culminated in his two-week suspension that was announced yesterday.
The social media platforms have been extremely hesitant to restrict or de-amplify Trump’s speech during his tenure—even Twitter’s policies intensified only during his last nine months in office.
The Twitter presidency ends
When Trump returned to the platform Thursday night, he was warned that any future tweets appearing to sow potential harm would result in permanent suspension. On Friday, he posted two tweets that Twitter deemed to be in violation of its rules on glorifying violence.
“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!!!” and “To all of those who have asked, I will not be going to the Inauguration on January 20th.”