Twitter boots Trump to stop violence-sparking tweets

Twitter shut down President Donald Trump’s account Friday, booting him from the global service to prevent another attack on the US Capitol building.

Trump had fervently used @realDonaldTrump for proclamations, accusations and misinformation unchallenged for his entire time in office.

Twitter’ decision to permanently suspend Trump is considered overdue by critics who argue he has gotten away with abuses, but has inflamed members of the far-right who equate fact-checking with stifling free speech.

“After close review of recent Tweets from the @realDonaldTrump account,” Twitter said in a blog post explaining its decision, “we have permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence.”

Twitter late Friday blocked efforts by Trump to sidestep the ban.

He fired off tweets from the official presidential account @POTUS, accusing the company of conspiring with the “Radical Left.” The social network quickly deleted the tweets.

Trump also tweeted from the @TeamTrump campaign account, which was soon suspended.

“Using another account to try to evade a suspension is against our rules,” Twitter told AFP.

“We have taken steps to enforce this with regard to recent Tweets from the @POTUS account.”

Twitter blocked Trump temporarily after the deadly attack on the US Capitol Wednesday, warning the suspension could become permanent.

He was suspended Friday after a pair of tweets: in one, Trump vowed that none of his supporters would be “disrespected.” In another, he said he would not attend successor Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20, as is customary.

“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,” Twitter said.

“We understand the desire to permanently suspend him now,” said ACLU senior legislative counsel Kate Ruane.

“But, it should concern everyone when companies like Facebook and Twitter wield the unchecked power to remove people from platforms that have become indispensable for the speech of billions.”

Trump has a press team and can easily turn to sympathetic outlets such as Fox News, while other people who could be shut out by the social networks don’t have that luxury, Ruane noted.

Social media companies such as Twitter have the right to decide what appears on their platforms and set standards for appropriate content. The First Amendment right to free speech prevents governments from stifling expression and does not apply to private businesses. (AFP | Glenn Chapman)