Social media takes a stand against Trump


Zach Gilbert

After years of provocative postings, prominent social media services decided that enough was enough with Donald Trump and subsequently suspended him from their platforms. Photo courtesy of Pexels.

In the wake of the storming of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, social media services finally stood up to President Trump due to the role he played in inciting this riot, with multiple revoking his right to post completely.

Facebook and Instagram were the first two platforms to respond to Trump’s transgressions, indefinitely blocking the president’s accounts on Thursday, Jan. 7.

“Over the last several years, we have allowed President Trump to use our platforms consistent with our own rules, at times removing content or labeling his posts when they violate our policies,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said. “We did this because we believe that the public has a right to the broadest possible access to political speech, even controversial speech. But the current context is now fundamentally different, involving use of our platform to incite violent insurrection against a democratically elected government.”

Twitter soon followed, permanently suspending the president from using the app on Friday, Jan. 8.

“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.

Trump was also not allowed to post any statements from the @POTUS account, as Twitter re-emphasized its rule that users who are banned from their platform cannot post from other accounts.

Over the weekend, social news aggregator Reddit, ecommerce platform Shopify, multimedia messaging app Snapchat and live streaming site Twitch all purged Trump’s presence from their respective services as well, issuing statements with sentiments that echoed what Facebook and Twitter had expressed only days earlier.

However, Trump wasn’t the only one punished following the calamity at the U.S. Capitol. The “free speech” social media platform Parler – which has attracted millions of far-right extremists and conspiracy theorists since its launch in August 2018 – was removed from both the Apple and Android app stores after alarming content related to the riots was discovered on the app.

“In order to protect user safety on Google Play, our longstanding policies require that apps displaying user-generated content have moderation policies and enforcement that removes egregious content like posts that incite violence,” a Google spokesperson told ABC News. “All developers agree to these terms and we have reminded Parler of this clear policy in recent months. We’re aware of continued posting in the Parler app that seeks to incite ongoing violence in the U.S.”

Apple was equally as critical of the content found on Parler, and they remained confident in their choice to suspend the social media service.

“We have always supported diverse points of view being represented on the App Store, but there is no place on our platform for threats of violence and illegal activity,” Apple said. “Parler has not taken adequate measures to address the proliferation of these threats to people’s safety. We have suspended Parler from the App Store until they resolve these issues.”

Though some have shared concern over “Big Tech’s” ability to ban Trump from nearly all major social media services (including his son, Donald Trump Jr., who tweeted that “we are living in Orwell’s ‘1984’”), others still see these suspensions as essential for public safety.

“I believe this was the right decision for Twitter,” Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted on Wednesday evening. “We faced an extraordinary and untenable circumstance, forcing us to focus all of our actions on public safety. Offline harm as a result of online speech is demonstrably real, and what drives our policy and enforcement above all.”