Twitter bans Trump citing risk of more violence

The social platform was under growing pressure to take action against the president after riots

Twitter banned President Donald Trump’s account Friday, citing “the risk of further incitement of violence.”

The social platform has been under growing pressure to take further action against Mr Trump following Wednesday's deadly insurrection at the US Capitol.

Twitter initially suspended Mr Trump's account for 12 hours after he posted a video that repeated unsubstantiated claims about election fraud and praised the rioters who stormed the Capitol.

Twitter’s move deprives Mr Trump of a potent tool he has used to communicate directly with the American people for more than a decade. He has used Twitter to announce policy changes, challenge opponents, insult enemies, praise his allies and himself — and to spread misinformation, flirt with inciting violence and denounce targets of his ire in capital letters.

Twitter has long given Mr Trump and other world leaders broad exemptions from its rules against personal attacks, hate speech and other behaviours. But in a detailed explanation posted on its blog Friday, the company said recent tweets by Mr Trump amounted to glorification of violence when read in the context of the Capitol riot and plans circulating online for future armed protests around the inauguration of president-elect Joe Biden.

In those tweets, Mr Trump stated that he will not be attending the inauguration and referred to his supporters as “American Patriots,” saying they will have “a GIANT VOICE long into the future.” Twitter said these statements “are likely to inspire others to replicate the violent acts that took place on January 6, 2021 and that there are multiple indicators that they are being received and understood as encouragement to do so.”

The company said “plans for future armed protests have already begun proliferating on and off-Twitter, including a proposed secondary attack on the US Capitol and state capitol buildings on January 17, 2021.”

Twitter said its policy enables world leaders to speak to the public, but that these accounts “are not above our rules entirely” and cannot use the platform to incite violence. Mr Trump had roughly 89 million followers.

Mr Trump’s posts on Twitter were a mix of policy announcements; complaints about the media; disparagement of women, minorities and his perceived enemies; and praise for his supporters, replete with exclamation marks, all-caps and one-word declarations such as “Sad!”

He has fired numerous officials on Twitter and his posts often contain misinformation.

Twitter confirmed that several hundred employees signed a letter to chief executive Jack Dorsey saying they were disturbed by the "insurrection" carried out by Trump supporters who had been rallied by the president.

The employees called for Twitter to assess the role its platform played in Wednesday's events.

"Twitter encourages an open dialogue between our leadership and employees, and we welcome our employees to express their thoughts and concerns in whichever manner feels right to them," a company spokesperson said of the letter.

Mr Trump also has restrictions on Facebook, Instagram, Twitch and Snapchat.

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