Donald Trump has been notorious for spewing hate from his Twitter account long before he became the president. A history of vile attacks including racism and fat shaming.
After the violent attacks on the U.S. Capitol building in Washington D.C and some Tweets, Twitter first issued Trump with a 12-hour temporary ban and then subsequently a permanent ban, also limiting access to other accounts including the official @POTUS account.
Joining in, Facebook has also suspended Trump indefinitely from Facebook and Instagram (not outright banned like Twitter). For a bigger lol, even Shapchat has banned Donald Trump amongst others who have temporarily suspended the sale of Trump merchandise including PayPal and Shopify. The “DonaldTrump” subreddit was also removed over on Reddit.
Where was all of this action years ago when Trump was using his platform to attack people and not condemn dangerous actions such as shootings and attacks?
The sad reality of this ban is that we shouldn’t be congratulating Twitter or patting Facebook on the back, these companies have only acted because Trump as a threat has all been neutralised. Twitter has clearly been too afraid to ban Trump out of fear of the regulatory hell he could put them in, now Biden is confirmed, Twitter has nothing left to lose. The same can be said for other platforms.
The damage has already been done. For years, Trump has built up his MAGA movement, empowering far-right self-described patriots some of which have gone on to commit some heinous acts.
If Twitter truly cared about limiting access to its platform from those spreading hate and inciting violence, maybe they should have banned Trump four years ago.
Don’t get me wrong, I think Trump is trash. But I am not entirely sure about bans.
It’s well understood (at least in the US) as I understand it that “Free Speech” does not extend to speech that promotes hatred or incitement, so on that basis I think some comments of Trump should have been removed against that bar.
The bigger problem is to recognise that “social media platforms” should not be acting as the censors of our society. But it opens a big can of worms in terms of how you structure a government and a society to control publishing of what is acceptable content and what is not. FB et all will undoubtedly argue they are not media companies and therefore not subject to those kinds of regulations, yet governments routinely impose controls on mainstream media, including limits on media power.
The partisanship in American Politics – as essentially shown with the Coney-Barrett confirmation – is deep, and media regulators (if there was such a thing that was intended to be independent) that are subject to House/Senate appointment are subject to being “gamed” to allow or disallow particular information.
What America really needs first and foremost, however, is to have an Independent Electoral Commission for Presidential elections. This won’t necessarily prevent allegations of Fraud, but it will at least diminish suggestions that vote counting was “partisan” in nature.
The other scary thing we should all learn from this is that a guy with a bit of a charisma and a giant megaphone (Twitter etc) can broadcast lies and there will be a percentage of the population stupid enough to believe him without doing their own critical thinking. This is the essence of propaganda, and it’s clear that many Americans seem particularly prone to accepting it when it comes from inside their own country.