Update 11/1/2021: President Trump has been indefinitely banned on Twitter, Snapchat, Discord, Reddit, and other social media websites. TechCrunch has reported that Tiktok is removing all videos related to the deadly siege of the US Capitol. Parler, an alternative social media platform widely used by conservatives, was removed from Google, Apple, and Amazon’s platforms after it was allegedly used to plan and coordinate the attack on the Capitol and failing to provide a moderation plan to avoid the ban.
8 January 2021 – a day which will live in infamy in the history of the United States of America.
Hundreds of US President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the United States Capitol while officials started the proceedings to stop President-Elect Joe Biden’s victory over the 2019 Presidential Elections.
This was after President Trump urged his supporters to go to the Capitol and support the members of Congress who planned to object to the counting of votes from the Electoral College.
During the besieging of the Capitol, Twitter temporarily banned President Trump from using his Twitter account in order to stop inflammatory messages from him. Twitter then instructed President Trump to remove three specific tweets. Twitter blocked President Trump shortly after the tweets were deleted.
One such tweet was about Vice President Mike Pence having no courage to do “what should have been done” to give the United States a chance to “certify a corrected set of facts.”
“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/more severe,” Twitter said in a tweet through @TwitterSafety.
Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg followed suit. In a Facebook post addressing the violence, Zuckerberg called how Trump used his platform in Facebook to fuel the siege rather than condemn and calm the besiegers as disturbing to the “people in the US and around the world.”
Zuckerberg had the posts Trump put up removed in order to halt the spread of further violence and banned him from Facebook and Instagram indefinitely “and for at least the next two weeks until the peaceful transition of power is complete.”
Facebook and Twitter were not the only ones who banned Trump from their platform. Twitch, Amazon’s streaming site that is hugely popular to gamers, also temporarily banned President Trump’s Twitch channel, but turned it into an indefinite ban, The Verge reported.
This isn’t the first time Trump got banned from Twitch. In June 2020, The New York Times reported that Trump received a 2-week ban for “hateful conduct” due to his stereotypical and racist remarks on Mexicans which violated Twitch’s rules.
Twitter has given Trump’s access to his Twitter account back and is not considering an indefinite ban as of this article’s publication.
However, Business Insider reported that many prominent names such as Elon Musk, actor Sacha Baron Cohen, and Kara Swisher from the Times to name a few, have blamed the attack on Capitol Hill on social media platforms due to their inaction on Trump’s continued use of their platforms to instigate such behaviour.
Elon Musk, who has been a criticizer of Facebook in the past, tweeted a meme using the “domino effect” format wherein Facebook, which Musk called “a website to rate women on campus”, is the foundation which led to the events on the Capitol.
Sacha Baron Cohen, a critic of Facebook as well as Trump, meanwhile, remarked in a tweet that “every social media company has a choice: stand with Trump and the domestic terrorists who attacked the Capitol or stand for democracy.”
Times columnist and writer, Kara Swisher, tweeted to Jack Dorsey, Twitter CEO, that if Jack doesn’t suspend Trump’s account, “the mob attack on Congress is also on you.” She also added that Trump has incited violence for days using Twitter chiefly as his megaphone and that Jack has to act immediately.
But the question remains, is social media to blame for what happened on Capitol Hill? Possibly. The use of social media is a double-edged sword. For every 10 things the internet tells you, there will be some in there that are not true. It’s the user’s decision to decide which to believe.
Written by John Paul Joaquin