“Account suspended. Twitter suspends accounts which violate the Twitter Rules.”
If you attempt to view President Donald Trump’s Twitter account, rather than seeing any of his posts, you will be faced with those words.
After millions of Americans witnessed a riot on Capitol Hill on January 6, the political divide in the United States became apparent. Throughout the riots, political leaders “begged” Trump to intervene against the violence, according to CNBC News.
As Trump posted a series of tweets after the riots began, the public was left in another state of division, as feelings regarding these tweets varied drastically. Some felt Trump’s tweets were enabling the rioters while others claimed that he was doing his best to prevent this disaster. Although his tweets are no longer available on Twitter, CNBC News provided a few of them.
“I am asking for everyone at the U.S. Capitol to remain peaceful. No violence! Remember, WE are the Party of Law & Order — respect the Law and our great men and women in Blue. Thank you!” Trump tweeted. “Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement. They are truly on the side of our Country. Stay peaceful!”
Furthermore, Trump later released a video asking the rioters to “go home” immediately in order for the country to have peace. As Trump continued to use Twitter, among many other platforms, to address the rioters and release statements, the attack on Capitol Hill continued to worsen.
According to D.C. Medical Services, one person is in critical condition after being shot at the U.S. Capitol and at least five people have been transported to the hospital as a result from the conflict as well. According to CNBC News, at least one of those transported was a law enforcement officer.
After immense pressure from the public, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, among many other CEOs of social media companies, decided that enough was enough. Dorsey, Zuckerberg, and more, took the liberty of suspending Trump from their platforms along with deleting all of his posts. This decision was not taken lightly as Americans nationwide expressed either their satisfaction or distress.
According to the New York Times, Pro-Trump Republicans claimed Twitter’s move was “an example of Silicon Valley’s tyrannical speech controls.” On the other hand, while many people were pleased with Twitter’s decision, some also shared their concern at the thought of so much control resting in so few hands, with fate at the click of a button.
A comment by Kate Ruane, Senior Legislative Council for the American Civil Liberties Union, was shared in a tweet posted by New York Times reporter Eric Lipton.
“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 — especially when political realities make those decisions easier,” Ruane said in the comment.
“Above all, Mr. Trump’s muzzling provides a clarifying lesson in where power resides in our digital society — not just in the precedent of law or the checks and balances of government, but in the ability to deny access to the platforms that shape our public discourse,” Roose wrote. “Mr. Dorsey and Mr. Zuckerberg’s names have never appeared on a ballot. But they have a kind of authority that no elected official on earth can claim.”