By Emma Jonas ‘23, Online Editor
After the events that took place at the United States Capitol on January 6th, many social media outlets decided to ban Donald Trump’s personal accounts. The president mainly used Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to interact with his supporters; these companies have all placed restrictions on his pages. Twitter suspended his account entirely while Facebook and Instagram banned him from posting for at least two weeks.
For years, Trump’s tweets have sparked controversy. Recently, the app labeled many of the president’s tweets about election fraud as false claims. Trump has always been in a constant battle with Twitter regarding censorship. Finally, Twitter decided to ban him from the app entirely. In a Twitter blog, the app disclosed, “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.” Twitter is referring to tweets both before and after the events of January 6th. On the government owned presidential account, @POTUS, Trump responded, “Twitter employees have coordinated with the Democrats and the Radical Left in removing my account from their platform, to silence me—and YOU, the 75,000,000 great patriots who voted for me.”
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts will be disabled “for at least the next two weeks until the peaceful transition of power is complete.” Both Zuckerberg and Instagram head Adam Mosseri temporarily banned the president from their apps because he used the platforms to “condone rather than condemn” the actions of his supporters at the Capitol. Zuckerberg further wrote, “Over the last several years, we have allowed President Trump to use our platform consistent with our own rules, at times removing content or labeling his posts when they violate our policies. We did this because we believe that the public has a right to the broadest possible access to political speech, even controversial speech. But the current context is now fundamentally different, involving use of our platform to incite violent insurrection against a democratically elected government.”
Trump and his Republican followers began turning to a different social media platform, Parler. Parler praises itself for being a network that prioritizes free speech. Now, both Google and Apple are trying to limit access Parler because, according to Google, there was “continued posting in the Parler app that seeks to incite ongoing violence in the U.S.” The app was removed from the Google Play Store. Apple gave Parler 24 hours “to improve moderation and content filtering your service for this kind of objectionable content going forward;” Parler did not comply, so Apple removed it from the app store. Concerning the bans and censorship, President Trump tweeted from @POTUS, “We have been negotiating with various other sites, and will have a big announcement soon, while we also look at the possibilities of building out our own platform in the near future. We will not be SILENCED!”
There are varying opinions on the authority of social media platforms to ban the president of the United States. Numerous Democrats were pleased with the decision. Hilary Clinton responded to a 2016 tweet that called on Mr. Trump to delete his account with a check emoji. Many left-wing politicians believed that Twitter’s resolution to ban Trump was long overdue. However, others were not in agreement with this decision for various reasons. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) warned of a slippery slope that could result in others being removed from social media platforms as well. The president can reach out to other press teams to spread his agenda, but others who may be banned in the future do not have the power to do so. Republicans have called out that suspending Trump’s account is an infringement of freedom of speech. However, because social media companies are privately owned, they are not bound by constitutional laws requiring them to give every user access to free speech. Despite this, Donald Trump Jr. expressed in a tweet that “Free Speech Is Under Attack! Censorship is happening like NEVER before! Don’t let them silence us.”
Twitter has a few additional users with far-right views such as Milo Yiannopoulos and Alex Jones. Many question if social media platforms will remove the accounts of left-wing politicians who have acted against their terms of service or if the account banning is a direct attack against President Trump.