Following the events of Jan. 6, President Donald Trump’s Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts were suspended. However, Trump now has access to his Twitter account once again, as it was only suspended for 12 hours starting Wednesday evening.
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!!!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 8, 2021
The Washington Post reports that the 12 hours Trump was locked out of his Twitter account was “his longest streak without airing his thoughts, feelings and calls to actions on the site since November 2019.”
Twitter was not the only app to try to stop Trump’s posting of false information and dangerous messages.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg released a statement Thursday that said, “We believe the risks allowing the President to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great. Therefore, we are extending the block we have placed on his Facebook and Instagram accounts indefinitely and at least for the next two weeks until the peaceful transition of power is complete.”
While suspending his accounts is an important step that needed to be taken, it is just too late. The damage has been done.
Trump has been continuously posting his rhetoric that the election was a “landslide victory” and that the counting of ballots has been “fraudulent.” He has been spreading lies nonstop, and his supporters are believing all he has to say. These postings were the fuel to a growing fire that led to the storming of the capitol.
Trump’s response to the raiding of the Capitol was a Twitter video in which he said “We had an election that was stolen from us. It was a landslide election, and everyone knows it, especially the other side.” His video validated the feelings of those storming the capitol as he reiterated his thoughts of the election being “fraudulent.”
While telling people to be peaceful and go home, he included “we love you, you’re very special.” The video has since been taken down by Twitter as it violated their rules.
In no way did he condemn the actions of the rioters Wednesday. He instead used his social media platforms to tell these people that he “loved” them. His Twitter platform should have been suspended long before it could get to the point of rioters storming the Capitol Building. Allowing Trump to post a video where he validates the feelings of these rioters should never have been able to be posted.
Zuckerberg also stated that over the past few years Facebook and Instagram have “allowed President Trump to use our platform consistent with our own rules, at times removing content or labelling his posts when they violate our policies. We did this because we believe the public has a right to the broadest possible access to political speech, even controversial speech. But the current context is fundamentally different, involving use of our platform to incite violent insurrection against a democratically elected government.”
This current context has been happening for months. Trump has been validating the feelings of his followers and has been encouraging violence with his platforms.
Labeling posts as not containing correct information does not work when you are dealing with a group of people who do not believe the majority of what the media says. If Twitter labels one of Trump's tweets as false claims, his supporters will further feel that his voice is being suppressed. Trying to add information to his posts rather than removing them seems pointless when dealing with supporters who only want information from the President himself.
Leaving his accounts and his tweets up surely did not help in the days leading up to Jan. 6. Throughout this presidency Trump has been tweeting dangerous messages.
When the president is tweeting threats, including; “When the looting starts, the shooting starts” in May 2020, following the protests of the Black Lives Matter movement, his platform needs to be removed. When a platform encourages violence, it needs to be taken down.
There were many times where his accounts should have been taken down, yet it took until now for serious action to be made.
Where was this energy this past summer? What about in November following the results of the election? While it’s appreciated that social media platforms are doing more to suspend his accounts and remove his posts, it is just far too late.