Which platforms and social media companies have banned Trump’s account and why?
In response to the violence in the Capitol social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have removed the President's personal account.
After relying on social media, particularly Twitter, throughout both election campaigns and during his time in office, Donald Trump now finds himself banned from many of those platforms.
In the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election both Twitter and Facebook began adding tags to the President’s tweets, warning that they were factually incorrect or disputed. Usually the warnings related to false claims about election fraud that the President has repeated where possible ever since.
More recently Trump’s use of social media became increasingly worrying as he appeared to incite the violent scenes in Washington on Wednesday when a mob of his supporters, fresh from a ‘Stop the Steal’ rally, stormed Congress and left five people dead. The President’s language both before and after the pro-Trump crowd occupied the Capitol was blamed for the violence, and Twitter hit him with a 12-hour ban on Thursday. After failing to heed warnings about his fraudulent claims, Donald Trump’s Twitter account was permanently suspended on Friday, with a plethora of online platforms quickly following suit.
Social media companies suspend Trump
Twitter has been the President’s favoured means of communicating with his followers throughout his time in office and the decision taken on Friday was a hugely significant one. After ignoring the previous restrictions placed on his account, Trump’s Twitter account was finally banned from the site on Friday after he was found to have violated their public interest framework for inciting violence.
A company blog post read: "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.”
Aside from Twitter, Trump has also been an extensive user of Facebook during his time in office. However after failing to fully condemn the violence carried out in his name in a video posted on Wednesday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg felt that he needed to be stopped.
Both Facebook and sister company Instagram removed the video and have hit Trump with a minimum two-week suspension from the site, meaning that he will be unable to return until after the transition of power to President-elect Joe Biden has been completed. In a post published on Thursday, Zuckerberg said: "We believe the risks of allowing the President to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great.”
Trump has also had his accounts disabled on both streaming platform Twitch and messaging app Snapchat in recent days. Although neither were primary sources of information for Trump’s followers he did have a considerable presence on both. Snapchat was one of the first social media companies to regulate the President’s posts back in June when they stopped promoting his account in the ‘Discover’ page, which features content from other prominent figures.
Web platforms find Trump-related posts in violation of rules on inciting violence
While the President’s use of social media is usually characterised by his own posts on personal channels, Trump’s online influence extends far beyond that. Trump supporters use other platforms to discuss and further his agenda, which in recent days has meant condoning and encouraging political violence on a mass scale.
YouTube are also looking to reduce instances of election misinformation across the site, but has been less decisive when it comes to punishment so far. The video publishing site removed the video in which Trump failed to condemn the violence, but is yet to ban his account entirely.
Alex Joseph, a YouTube spokesperson, said of the site’s policy: "Due to the extraordinary events that transpired yesterday, and given that the election results have been certified, any channel posting new videos with these false claims in violation of our policies will now receive a strike, a penalty which temporarily restricts uploading or live-streaming.” Permanent bans will be issued to repeat offenders.
Alternative social media site removed from app stores
In response to the clamp-down on mainstream social media sites, some right-wing Trump supporters have switched to wholly unmediated platforms like Parler, which do not enforce any kind of fact-checking.
The self-styled “unbiased” and “free speech” social network Parler has experienced a spike in users since other platforms began cracking down. Trump does not currently have an official Parler account, but Texas Senator and Trump apologist Ted Cruz has 4.9 million followers on the platform.
Parler’s chief executive John Matze said recently: "We won't cave to politically motivated companies and those authoritarians who hate free speech!" However that unwillingness to moderate the content in any way has seen the platform fall foul of two web giants in recent days and the Parler smartphone app has been removed from the two largest app stores.
Both Apple and Google have pulled Parler from their online offering, making it harder for prospective users to find the platform. Google was the first to do so, removing the app for failing to “have moderation policies and enforcement that removes egregious content like posts that incite violence.” On Saturday, Apple followed suit and announced the Parler app would not be available to iPhone and iPad users.