Social media tension with the White House escalated Thursday: After an uprising by Trump supporters pierced the Capitol in Washington, DC on Wednesday, Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg has taken to his own network to reveal that he is banning President Trump from the main platform, as well as Instagram, indefinitely.
The decision followed TwitterThe president’s 12-hour suspension on Wednesday for tweets that appeared to stir up unrest. Likewise, Facebook also blocked Trump from posting on his networks for 24 hours. But then Zuckerberg took it a step further.
“We believe the risks of allowing the president to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great,” he wrote. “Therefore, we are extending the block we placed on his Facebook and Instagram accounts indefinitely and for at least the next two weeks until the peaceful transition of power is complete. “
YouTube followed suit Thursday afternoon with its own policy change. After issuing new conditions banning election disinformation in December – which prompted the platform to remove thousands of videos – the Google platform is now pledging to take tougher measures to tackle election lies.
The company said it would suspend accounts for single infractions, but three strikes within 90 days would result in termination. This apparently applies to any channel, including Trump’s, as well as those from far-right media companies like OAN and other loyalists.
These steps are the most assertive taken by Silicon Valley to date, and they crown a multi-year feud between Trump and social media platforms. The president and his party have routinely made accusations of censorship and unfair treatment of Tories in recent years.
Although tech companies have testified to the contrary on numerous occasions, they apparently feel more confident now to openly muzzle the president, justified by efforts to thwart incitement to riot. And so far, the only criticisms are that these moves don’t go far enough.
“While I am delighted to see social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are taking belated action to tackle the President’s misuse of their platforms to sow discord and violence, these isolated actions are both too late and far from sufficient, ”said Senator Mark R Warner, D-Va., Remarks.
Change can also come from a new political reality. In two weeks, a Democratic trio will be complete, with control of the White House, Senate and House. Critics like Jennifer Palmieri, former communications director for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign, believe there may be a connection.
It did not escape my notice that the day the social media companies decided there was in fact more they could do to control Trump’s destructive behavior was the same day they learned that the Democrats would chair all congressional committees that oversee them.
– Jennifer Palmieri (@jmpalmieri) January 7, 2021
While the pressure on Big Tech over antitrust and privacy issues isn’t going away anytime soon, accusations of censorship or bias against conservatives will likely have a lot less bite.
What remains to be seen is whether the social giants will keep their long-term commitments – or whether this will continue to push conservatives towards alternatives like Speak and Gab. But so far, activity on these platforms has swirled, especially before and on January 6. Users posted during the chaos in DC, with “no change without bloodshed” and “it was the inevitable result” among posts supporting the riot.
If Trump finds himself permanently in exile on Twitter, he may ultimately take refuge in Speaking. He would have already set up his shop there. When Facebook and Twitter took action against him, an account claiming to belong to the president emerged asking for donations for a 2024 election candidacy.
Update: Twitter permanently shut down President Trump’s @realDonaldTrump account on Friday. In a tweet, the company explained that the action was “because of the risk of inciting violence.”
After careful consideration of recent Tweets from the @realDonaldTrump account and the context surrounding them, we have permanently suspended the account due to the risk of incitement to violence.https://t.co/CBpE1I6j8Y
– Twitter Security (@TwitterSafety) January 8, 2021
Seeking a workaround, Trump took to @POTUS with messages accusing Twitter of “banning free speech.” He also teased that he was “negotiating with various other sites” on some sort of “big announcement coming soon” and exploring “the possibilities of building our own platform.”
Twitter deleted the posts. In other words, it’s not about deleting Donald Trump’s personal account, but about exiling the person, regardless of which account they are trying to occupy – a fact the company has confirmed to the media. Friday night.
But the online punch continued, with the president resorting to @TeamTrump to repost the same deleted tweets. The messages were deleted within minutes and @TeamTrump was permanently suspended.
Twitter also suspended Gary Coby, who led the Trump campaign’s digital strategy, for his apparent attempt to let Trump set up a digital residence on his account. The change from the account to Trump’s display name and profile photo was a major clue.
The president has not only lost his favorite messaging platform, but his expulsion from most major social media platforms effectively neutralizes his ability to communicate directly with the public – at least for now, despite negotiations with other platforms.
With few options, Trump could have turned to Speaking as his megaphone of choice. The messaging app, which claims a commitment to “free speech,” has gained popularity with conservatives, especially in recent months.
The odds are virtually nil, however, as Google and Apple – believing Talk has become a tool to “facilitate illegal and dangerous activity,” in Apple’s words – have removed the app from their app stores. In no time, Amazon followed suit. Its Amazon Web Services, which provides cloud hosting for Parler, decided to eject the app from its platform. The eviction is expected to take effect Sunday evening.
Mass digital avoidance infuriates Trump’s henchmen, but appeals to others, like Gab.com. Parler’s rival announced that as of Friday, it was seeing 10,000 new users flocking to the platform per hour.