Twitter permanently banned President Donald Trump on Friday, days after a pro-Trump mob stormed the US Capitol leaving five dead.
“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,” Twitter said in a statement Friday.
Twitter’s move, which followed a similar block issued by Facebook, comes as the country reels in the wake of a chaotic assault Wednesday on the Capitol. The melee, in which five people died, followed a Trump rally nearby and came as Congress was gathered to certify the results of the heated presidential election. The attack halted the count, though it resumed and was completed after law enforcement cleared the Capitol of rioters.
Twitter had been reluctant to pull down Trump’s account, because his role as president makes his words of public interest. However, the company has faced increased pressure to permanently ban the president’s account after his baseless claims of voter fraud spilled over into violence on Capitol Hill, and this move marks the harshest rebuke yet. Twitter’s own employees criticized the company for not acting, writing a letter to CEO Jack Dorsey and other company executives asking for an investigation into the social network’s role in the riot, according to The Washington Post.
Twitter decided the new tweets were “highly likely to encourage and inspire people to replicate the criminal acts” at the Capitol, and shared its reasoning in five parts:
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.
The suspension has been a long time coming. For years, Twitter has faced pressure to remove Trump from its platform due to the large megaphone it’s offered him to spread hateful language and lies. The company justified his continued presence on the platform as being in the public interest.