Twitter Releases Statement About Trump Ban As Social Media Purge Expands

Twitter has released an official statement about why it has permanently banned Donald Trump. Meanwhile, purges are expanding on social media.

Many would call it long overdue, but these last few days are still completely stunning. On January 6th, Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol at Donald Trumps urging. In response, Twitter suspended Trump’s account for 12 hours. This as Trump supporters gleefully dumped troves of evidence of their insurrection on social media – loads that can be used by authorities like the FBI who had been seeking the public’s help in arresting the terrorists.

In the aftermath of the carnage, not only did Shopify ban Trump, but Facebook also took the step of permanently banning Trump. Then, Trump’s biggest social media platform was taken away as Twitter permanently suspended Trump’s account.

For it’s part, Twitter released a statement offering it’s rationale for banning the US president.

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.

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. We will continue to be transparent around our policies and their enforcement.

The below is a comprehensive analysis of our policy enforcement approach in this case.

Overview

On January 8, 2021, President Donald J. Trump 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!!!”

Shortly thereafter, the President Tweeted:

“To all of those who have asked, I will not be going to the Inauguration on January 20th.”

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. After assessing the language in these Tweets against our Glorification of Violence policy, we have determined that these Tweets are in violation of the Glorification of Violence Policy and the user @realDonaldTrump should be immediately permanently suspended from the service.

Assessment

We assessed the two Tweets referenced above under our Glorification of Violence policy, which aims to prevent the glorification of violence that could inspire others to replicate violent acts and determined that they 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.

This determination is based on a number of factors, including:

  • 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.

In the wake of this, Trump supporters are reportedly plotting a second armed assault on the US Capitol. One date being proposed is January 17th. This as Trump attempted to evade the ban by using alternate accounts. From CNBC:

Twitter said it feared Trump’s most recent tweets were being interpreted as supporting the rioters and that plans for future armed protests had already been proliferating both on and off the platform, including a proposed attack on the U.S. Capitol and state capitol buildings on Jan. 17.

The suspension amounts to a ban: Trump can no longer access his account and his tweets and profile picture have been deleted. Trump had 88.7 million followers prior to his suspension. Institutional accounts such as @POTUS and @WhiteHouse are still active.

Trump later tweeted a statement from the @POTUS account before it appeared to be deleted. Later Friday, the same statement was shared by the Trump campaign’s Twitter account before that entire account was permanently.

“As we’ve said, using another account to try to evade a suspension is against our rules,” a Twitter spokesperson said in a statement.

While Trump attempted to use POTUS, it wasn’t the only account he used to circumvent the ban. Trump also used the TeamTrump account as well. That account has also been suspended.

January 17 isn’t the only date the extremists are plotting another attack. In addition to that, those extremists are reportedly hoping to also show up for Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20th. From NBCNews:

In the wake of Wednesday’s riot at the Capitol, Trump supporters with extremist views feel emboldened and are vowing to return to Washington for the upcoming inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden on January 20, using online platforms to rally each other.

“Many of Us will return on January 19, 2021, carrying Our weapons, in support of Our nation’s resolve, towhich [sic] the world will never forget!!! We will come in numbers that no standing army or police agency can match,” wrote a popular Parler user who frequently posts about QAnon, and is being tracked by the Anti-Defamation League.

Parler, Telegram chat rooms and the platform TheDonald.win were all used to plan and coordinate the Jan. 6 rally that turned into a riot. Posters explicitly stated their intentions to “occupy” the Capitol. QAnon conspiracy theorists and people associated with militia groups had a visible presence in Wednesday’s crowd.

“Round 2 on January 20th. This time no mercy. I don’t even care about keeping Trump in power. I care about war,” an anonymous person posted on the platform TheDonald.win, which is filled with comments posted by people who lauded those who rioted Wednesday as “heroes.”

Elsewhere, Trump supporters are seeing a major purge of right wing extremist content. According to Axios, Reddit banned r/DonaldTrump. Other high profile extremists are also being suspended as well. From MotherJones:

Big tech companies are clamping down on far-right accounts, personalities, and apps. On Friday, YouTube banned former Trump strategist Steve Bannon’s War Room podcast. Twitter permanently suspended President Donald Trump’s account late on Friday. The company also banned former national security adviser Michael Flynn and attorney Sidney Powell, two high-profile promoters of Qanon conspiracy theories who had aided Trump’s efforts to overturn the presidential election.

Meanwhile, Apple is threatening to ban Parler from their app store. From Buzzfeed News:

Apple has given Parler, the social network favored by conservatives and extremists, an ultimatum to implement a full moderation plan of its platform within the next 24 hours or face expulsion from the App store.

In an email sent this morning and obtained by BuzzFeed News, Apple wrote to Parler’s executives that there had been complaints that the service had been used to plan and coordinate the storming of the US Capitol by President Donald Trump’s supporters on Wednesday. The insurrection left five people dead, including a police officer.

“We have received numerous complaints regarding objectionable content in your Parler service, accusations that the Parler app was used to plan, coordinate, and facilitate the illegal activities in Washington D.C. on January 6, 2021 that led (among other things) to loss of life, numerous injuries, and the destruction of property,” Apple wrote to Parler. “The app also appears to continue to be used to plan and facilitate yet further illegal and dangerous activities.”

Apple said that “to ensure there is no interruption of the availability of your app on the App Store,” Parler was required to submit an update and a “requested moderation improvement plan within 24 hours of the date of the message,” which was sent on Friday morning. Apple said if it did not receive an update from the company within that time frame, the app would be removed from the App store.

In addition to this, Trump was reportedly wanting to start his own social media platform in response to the purges.

While social media is undergoing a purge online, authorities were busy working on arresting some of the insurrectionists offline. From WMC5:

The FBI continues to search for people who took part in Wednesday’s riot at the U.S. Capitol. On Saturday, the FBI announced it arrested three more men.

They include Jacob Chansley, a.k.a Jake Angeli, the man seen wearing a horn hat and carrying a spear; Derrick Evans, a 35-year-old state lawmaker from West Virginia who federal investigators say streamed live video to Facebook, showing him and the other rioters entering the capitol; and 36-year-old Adam Johnson, the man seen smiling and carrying House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s podium.

Authorities also arrested Richard Barnett, a resident of Benton County, Arkansas.

A photo shows him sitting in a chair in Pelosi’s office with his foot propped up on a desk.

Barnett claims to be a retired Memphis firefighter, though that’s not confirmed.

The FBI also released a massive gallery of those wanted for participating in the insurrection. You can see the gallery on NBCWashington.

Employers are also busy firing identified perpetrators of the armed insurrection. In one instance, a man was identified because his face wasn’t covered and he was still wearing his work ID badge. From WBALTV:

One of the people seen in the U.S. Capitol Wednesday afternoon after angry mobs stormed the building lost his job at a Maryland-based communications company.

Angry mobs of President Donald Trump’s supporters, incited by the president, breached the Capitol building, halting the electoral vote count and forcing lawmakers to move into a secured location. Four people died.

One of the people who entered the Capitol was fired by Navistar Direct Marketing after a photo showed him inside the Capitol wearing his work ID badge.

The company released statement saying, in part: “Any employee demonstrating dangerous conduct that endangers the health and safety of others will no longer have an employment opportunity with Navistar Direct Marketing.”

This wasn’t the only firing. From Reuters:

Libby Andrews, a real estate agent from Chicago, was fired by @properties and removed from its website, even though she had done nothing wrong and had not entered the capitol, she said in an interview.

“I’m a 56-year-old woman, petite. I was not there causing trouble. I was there to support my president,” said Andrews.

Andrews said she had climbed the steps of the Capitol without encountering security, posted selfies from the scene on Instagram, sang the national anthem and then moved on. Online critics were quick to post negative reviews of her real estate work on a ratings site.

A spokeswoman for @properties said the firm condemned those who ascended the capitol steps for attempting “to threaten the country’s democratic process.”

The article details in length some of the other firings that took place in the aftermath of the insurrection.

As noted earlier, Democrats have drafted articles of impeachment against the president for leading an insurrection. The text of the impeachment articles can be read on CNN or PBS.

One thing is for sure, heads are beginning to roll over what happened just three days ago.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.



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