President Trump will spend the last 12 days of his presidency cut off from Twitter completely after the company imposed a permanent suspension on his personal account Friday due to the risk of “further incitement to violence.”
“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,” the company said in a blog post.
A Facebook source told The Daily Beast that a permanent ban from their platforms is “likely,” but not definite.
Several attempts by Trump to bypass the ban late Friday were met with failure. Using the official @POTUS account on Friday evening, Trump railed against Twitter and “the radical left” in tweets that were deleted almost as quickly as they appeared. He then took to his @TeamTrump account to spew the same angry rhetoric, but that too was quickly suspended. (Twitter had warned earlier Friday that other accounts would also be suspended if it became clear they were being “used for the purposes of evading a ban.”)
Trump ultimately continued his rant against Twitter elsewhere, issuing a statement to White House pool reporters about how the platform had supposedly “coordinated with the Democrats and the Radical Left in removing my account from their platform, to silence me.”
The outgoing president had used Twitter as his preferred megaphone throughout his presidency, using it to bypass aides to spread disinformation, insults and false claims about election fraud.
The permanent suspension, which comes two days after he incited a violent mob to overtake the Capitol, also follows a report about hundreds of Twitter staffers demanding action from CEO Jack Dorsey.
According to The Washington Post, hundreds of staffers signed on to a letter demanding Trump be suspended permanently and an investigation be launched into how the platform itself helped fuel the events of Jan. 6 by acting as “Trump’s megaphone.”
The social media company had somewhat stepped up oversight in recent months, adding labels about election misinformation and restricting engagement with some of Trump’s most unhinged tweets.
But critics inside and outside of the platforms have been pleading for years for the account to be taken down entirely, arguing that Trump’s peddling of dangerous disinformation and incitements to violence outweighed any free-speech concerns. (“When the looting starts, the shooting starts,” he tweeted in May during the Black Lives Matter protests.)
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) had urged the platform as recently as Friday morning to implement a ban “in the interest of our national security and public safety.” Vice President-elect Kamala Harris had been pushing for Trump to face a permanent Twitter ban since 2019, long before his rhetoric spurred supporters to action on Jan. 6.
“Lots of people could’ve and did predict that this would happen,” a source at Facebook told The Daily Beast, referring to the riot at the Capitol that left five people deal. “The possibility of it happening again was high, because this guy [Trump] is fucking nuts.”
The suspension is likely to cut Trump deep. As The Daily Beast reported, he appeared more livid about being temporarily locked out of his Twitter account on Wednesday than he did about the deadly riot unfolding in the heartland of American democracy.
One source told The Daily Beast that Trump was furious he couldn’t tweet while another said he complained about it being proof of Big Tech silencing conservatives and trying to help cover up the “crime” of the century that occurred during the 2020 presidential election.
Twitter explained that it was two of Trump’s latest tweets that led to immediate action Friday, as they violated the platform’s policy against “glorification of violence.” In one on Friday morning, he called his supporters “great American patriots” who he said will have a “GIANT VOICE long into the future,” which Twitter said could easily be seen as encouragement for those who orchestrated violence at the Capitol.
Even his tweet announcing his own plans not to attend President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration fanned the flames by sending the message “that the election was not legitimate,” Twitter said.
“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 wrote in the blog post alongside its analysis of recent Trump tweets.
Twitter wasn’t the only platform to weed out inflammatory content linked to Trump and his supporters. Gaming site Discord said it had banned the server “The Donald” due to its “overt connection to an online forum used to incite violence and plan an armed insurrection.”
At the same time, Parler, the social media site embraced as a "free speech" safe haven by MAGA fanatics, was suspended by Google Play due to its lack of moderation for posts that seek “to incite ongoing violence,” and given a 24-hour deadline by Apple to take action on toning down its content or face expulsion from the App Store. “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 reportedly told the site.
Trump had tweeted out a link to his Team Trump Parler account just before being booted from Twitter, directing his millions of supporters there even as the platform takes a hit from Google and Apple.
And while many rejoiced in the news Friday that they’d no longer have to see Trump’s rambling and bizarre tweets, there was another unexpected end result: As The Daily Show duly noted, with Trump removed, Melania Trump’s Be Best campaign against cyberbullying may have just seen its first success.
-- Noah Shachtman and Asawin Suebsaeng contributed reporting