Recently, Donald Trump got impeached for the second time in his Presidency. However, Twitter was still quite peaceful as the House passed the article of impeachment. This is because Trump’s very vocal Twitter account was suspended indefinitely. Moreover, he also got banned from many other major social media platforms, including Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, etc. But, should he have been banned? Is it right to ban the most powerful man in the free world from using social media?
Why they banned Donald Trump
The major reason why a majority of social media platforms banned Donald Trump is that they found him inciting violence with his posts during the US Capitol riots. Furthermore, Trump was also spreading fake news ever since the 2020 US Elections. For instance, Twitter’s official reason to ban Trump were as follows:
After assessing the language in (Donald Trump’s) 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.
Just to make clear, hundreds of thousands of accounts get suspended every day from Twitter for glorifying violence or threatening it on others. However, when it’s the President of the United States getting banned on Twitter, then you have to look at things from a different perspective.
Let me make one thing clear – I do not, have never, or will ever support Donald Trump. In fact. The main reason for this piece is that the implications of this ban are far bigger than just Trump. Now, ordinary accounts get suspended every day for the glorification of violence. But, the difference between them and Trump is that more than 70 million people voted for Trump to be their President.
How Donald Trump’s social media ban is different than an ordinary suspension
As horrible a person he may be, he is a public servant and his words have to be heard. Because only then can people judge him for who he is. Now, this in no way means that Twitter should stand idle and let Donald Trump spew hatred through his account. You can lock him out for a while, or stop his tweets from spreading and flag them. That, by all means, is fine. But to ban Donald Trump is a slippery slope that can have dangerous ramifications if social media sites continue with this policy. Because, what if they started applying these policies to the voices of the oppressed? What if social media giants think it’s fine to silence the Black Lives Matter protestors the same way?
We all wanted to see Donald Trump banned on social media. The lies got too much for most people to bear. But, doing that just two weeks before the inauguration is just extremely bizarre. The President was just as big a threat during the George Floyd protests, when on the basis of “LAW AND ORDER,” he was willing to massacre the protestors. Was he not just as big a threat to Americans at the time? Why is it that they only thought to ban Donald Trump when he is about to go out of office?
And that leads to another question, can we treat social media as a simple private entity?
Is social media just a private platform?
Many who argue for the ban say that Twitter and Facebook are not bound by the first amendment, that they are not bound by free speech. Now, it could be true for ordinary users who spew hatred and do not deserve a platform to spread it. However, for a person who, sadly, was elected as the leader of the free world, we have to bring in a bit of nuance. For a man who was voted for by millions of Americans, if banning him is justifiable then in the future, these same tools can be put into use against those raising their voices for the downtrodden.
Maybe I’m reading too much into this ban and it is just a one-off incident. I sincerely hope that is the case. But, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey himself admits that though Donald Trump’s ban was necessary, it could be dangerous. He said in a lengthy Twitter thread:
I do not celebrate or feel pride in our having to ban @realDonaldTrump from Twitter, or how we got here. After a clear warning we’d take this action, we made a decision with the best information we had based on threats to physical safety both on and off Twitter. Was this correct?
— jack (@jack) January 14, 2021
Yes, banning Donald Trump may have been the right thing to do. But, it is about time that Twitter, Facebook, and other social media barons realize that it is because of their algorithms that their platforms fueled this divide in the world in the first place. The new right-wing politicians began their political careers on these websites. And a simple ban on Donald Trump, which itself is contentious and disingenuous, to say the least, cannot undo the damage that has been done not only to American democracy but in countries around the world. In short, they need to be regulated, because self-regulation has clearly failed.