After the Capitol incursion on Wednesday, Twitter and Facebook took down videos posted by President Donald Trump and locked him out of his account for a what was supposed to be a short period.
In 72 hours, the president had been banned entirely from a platform and an alternative social media platform had been effectively shut down by Big Tech companies.
First came the 12-hour ban from Twitter.
“As a result of the unprecedented and ongoing violent situation in Washington, D.C., we have required the removal of three @realDonaldTrump Tweets that were posted earlier today for repeated and severe violations of our Civic Integrity policy,” the Twitter Safety account announced.
“This means that the account of @realDonaldTrump will be locked for 12 hours following the removal of these Tweets. If the Tweets are not removed, the account will remain locked.”
This means that the account of @realDonaldTrump will be locked for 12 hours following the removal of these Tweets. If the Tweets are not removed, the account will remain locked.
— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) January 7, 2021
“Future violations of the Twitter Rules, including our Civic Integrity or Violent Threats policies, will result in permanent suspension of the @realDonaldTrump account. Our public interest policy — which has guided our enforcement action in this area for years — ends where we believe the risk of harm is higher and/or more severe,” it added.
Our public interest policy — which has guided our enforcement action in this area for years — ends where we believe the risk of harm is higher and/or more severe.
— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) January 7, 2021
Facebook would also first suspend Trump for 24 hours, too, then said it was “extending the block we have placed on his Facebook and Instagram accounts indefinitely and for at least the next two weeks until the peaceful transition of power is complete.”
Trump took those tweets down, but Twitter still found its violation.
That violation, such as it was, came in the form of two tweets, according to Fox News, including one that said he wouldn’t be attending President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration. This, incidentally, was what Biden had said he wanted.
“One of the few things he and I have ever agreed on,” Biden said at a news conference hours before the Twitter ban was announced. “It’s a good thing, him not showing up.”
The other post had Trump saying that “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!!!”
Twitter claimed these had to be read in a wider context, even though they were fairly tame.
“These two Tweets must be read in the context of broader events in the country and the ways in which the President’s statements can be mobilized by different audiences, including to incite violence, as well as in the context of the pattern of behavior from this account in recent weeks,” Twitter said in a statement.
“After assessing the language in these Tweets against our Glorification of Violence policy, we have determined that these Tweets are in violation of the Glorification of Violence Policy and the user @realDonaldTrump should be immediately permanently suspended from the service.”
“The mention of his supporters having a ‘GIANT VOICE long into the future’ and that ‘They will not be disrespected or treated unfairly in any way, shape or form!!!’ is being interpreted as further indication that President Trump does not plan to facilitate an ‘orderly transition’ and instead that he plans to continue to support, empower, and shield those who believe he won the election,” it continued.
This intuiting seemed more like a pretext than context, though. Trump was soon suspended from a whole raft of platforms, including Facebook, Instagram and … Pinterest.
Parler was also growing popular with those who were looking to cause mayhem.
— MoreIndictmentsPlease (@Cbluedreams) January 8, 2021
Not that there haven’t been violent tweets or statements on Facebook, including stuff like this by Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei:
Our stance against Israel is the same stance we have always taken. #Israel is a malignant cancerous tumor in the West Asian region that has to be removed and eradicated: it is possible and it will happen. 7/31/91#GreatReturnMarch
— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) June 3, 2018
The Islamic Republic of Iran will never forget the martyrdom of Hajj Qasem Soleimani and will definitely strike a reciprocal blow to the US.
— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) July 21, 2020
The thing is that these are still up on Twitter, whereas Parler has said it’s policing threats like these.
“We don’t want this content on our platform of course,” Parler’s chief policy officer Amy Peikoff told Fox News on Sunday morning.
“It is not only illegal, but it’s contrary to our mission because we are trying to provide a nonpartisan town square in which people of varying viewpoints can have productive discussions and force and threats of force stop those discussions. In fact, they stop thinking, so it is the opposite of what we want.”
The platform had also seen an influx of users, as well.
A Twitter post from Appfigures, a company that tracks app use, showed the numbers, under the caption “#Parler’s Last Hurrah.”
— Appfigures (@appfigures) January 9, 2021
The reason that’s Parler’s “last hurrah?” Pretty much every tech company shut it down.
Both Google and Apple, which produce the only two widely used mobile ecosystems, removed Parler from their app stores by Saturday. Then, Amazon, which provides Parler’s web servers, informed Parler on Saturday evening it was suspending the company from Amazon Web Services, as first reported by BuzzFeed News. This would effectively shut the platform down, effective 11:59 p.m. Sunday.
“We are clearly being singled out,” Peikoff told Fox. “I believe we were treated unfairly.”
She added that the content being cited as a reason to effectively shut down the platform was often from accounts of dubious origin, telling Fox that “these are accounts that have been created two days ago and they have few pieces of content and some of them are parodies of what you would think a right-wing inciter of violence would be.”
Parler CEO John Matze told “Sunday Morning Futures,” according to Fox, that while Parler would “get back online as quickly as possible,” it would likely be offline for up to a week because of the termination of its server access by Amazon.
As for whether Parler can get back on the app stores, that’s another question entirely.
In a statement Saturday, according to NBC News, Apple said that it has “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.”
Meanwhile, Google cited a failure to police “egregious content,” according to Fox.
This was as many conservatives fled to Parler, as well. Spectator USA writer Melissa Chen may have put it best:
Well it’s a private company so if you don’t like it, you can always…
“create your own social network”
“create your own app ecosystem”
“create your own payment system”
“create your own Web hosting service”
“create your own power company”
“create your own… country.”
— Melissa Chen (@MsMelChen) January 10, 2021
Yes, if you don’t like Twitter, create your own Twitter. Unless Big Tech doesn’t like it and acts in concert against it.
This was never about President Trump’s tweets.
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