US President Donald Trump has been permanently suspended from Twitter due to the “risk of further incitement of violence”, the social media giant has announced, days after his supporters stormed the US Capitol and caused the deaths of four civilians and a police officer.
The unprecedented move by the California-based social media platform comes after Trump tweeted that he would not attend the inauguration of his successor, Joe Biden, on January 20.
“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 said in a statement on Friday.
At the time of permanent suspension, Trump had 88.7 million followers and followed 51 people.
“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,” it said.
“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. It said that we will continue to be transparent around our policies and their enforcement.
Thousands of Trump’s supporters had stormed the Capitol building on Wednesday in an unprecedented assault and clashed with police, resulting in five deaths and interrupting a constitutional process by Congress to affirm the victory of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris in the November 3 election.
Immediately after the incident, Twitter had temporarily suspended the account of Trump for 12 hours. Facebook has already suspended his account on Facebook and Instagram till inauguration. Early this week, You Tube removed a number of his videos from the rally he addressed to his supporters.
On Friday, Trump posted two provocative tweets.
“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.”
In its statement, Twitter said these two tweets must be read in the context of broader events in the country and the ways in which Trump’s statements could be mobilised by different audiences to incite violence, as well as in the context of the pattern of behaviour from this account in recent weeks.
Twitter said that its determination is based on a number of factors, including Trump’s statement that he would not be attending the inauguration is being received by a number of his supporters as further confirmation that the election was not legitimate.
The 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,” it said.
According to the company, the tweet is being interpreted as further indication that Trump does not plan to facilitate an “orderly transition”. Instead, it plans to continue supporting, empowering, and shielding those who believe he won the election.
It said that 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.
“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,” Twitter said.
In a statement hours after he was banned, Trump said: “I predicted this would happen. 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!”
“Twitter is not about FREE SPEECH. They are all about promoting a Radical Left platform where some of the most vicious people in the world are allowed to speak freely. “STAY TUNED!”‘ he said, indicating some announcements in this regard is forthcoming.
“Twitter may be a private company, but without the government’s gift of Section 230 they would not exist for long,” Trump said.