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Twitter bans Donald Trump citing risk of violent incitement

A photo illustration shows the suspended Twitter account of U.S. President Donald Trump on a smartphone and the White House in Washington D.C. on January 8, 2021.   | Photo Credit: Reuters

Twitter banned President Donald Trump's account citing “the risk of further incitement of violence.”

The social platform has been under growing pressure to take further action against Mr. Trump following the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Twitter initially suspended Mr. Trump's account for 12 hours after he posted a video that repeated false claims about election fraud and praised the rioters who stormed the Capitol.

Also read: Won't be silenced, says Trump after Twitter ban

Twitter's move deprives Mr. Trump of a potent tool he has used to communicate directly with the American people for more than a decade. He has used Twitter to announce policy changes, challenge opponents, insult enemies, praise his allies (and himself), and to spread misinformation.

Also read: Facebook bans Donald Trump ‘indefinitely’

Twitter has long given Mr. Trump and other world leaders broad exemptions from its rules against personal attacks, hate speech and other behaviors. But in a lengthy explanation posted on its blog Friday, the company said recent Mr. Trump tweets amounted to glorification of violence when read in the context of the Capitol riot and plans circulating online for future armed protests around the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.

Also read: U.S. Capitol breach | Democrats tell 'unhinged' Trump to step down or be impeached

In those tweets, Mr. Trump stated that he will not be attending the inauguration and referred to his supporters as “American Patriots,” saying they will have “a GIANT VOICE long into the future.” Twitter said these statements “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."

Here is the full statement from Twitter:

Permanent suspension of @realDonaldTrump

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 (12) 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.


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Printable version | Dec 2, 2021 7:43:03 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/twitter-bans-donald-trump-citing-risk-of-violent-incitement/article33534350.ece

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