Twitter said on Friday that it has permanently suspended the account of Donald Trump “due to the risk of further incitement of violence” after he incited a pro-Trump mob attacking the Capitol in a deadly act of insurrection. The move essentially robs Trump of his most powerful platform, reaching in excess of 88 million followers. The president spent Friday night trying to escape purgatory by fleeing to other accounts, only to be caught and thrown off again and again by Twitter.
First, the president fled to the @POTUS account where he was cut off by Twitter, mid-statement, offering complaints about “free speech” and showmanship promise of a “big announcement soon.” Then he tried the Trump campaign’s official account, where he was also caught, leading Twitter to ban that account as well. Then, according to CNN’s Jeremy Diamond, the Trump campaign’s digital director apparently tried to give the president his account — and got banned.
The end came for Trump after he was given a final warning on Friday morning for tweeted that the “great American Patriots who voted for me” will not be “disrespected or treated unfairly in any way, shape or form!!!” Following Wednesday’s pro-Trump attack on the Capitol, the president sent a tweet repeating his false allegation of election fraud and another that seemed to justify the insurrection. Twitter deleted the tweets, locked him out of his account for 12 hours, and warned him a ban was next if he kept breaking the rules. In response to Trump’s conduct, Facebook said it banned him from the platform until the end of his term on January 20.
Trump was an early adopter of Twitter, using it as far back as 2009 to weigh in on everything from Twilight stars Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson’s relationship to bashing Graydon Carter for Vanity Fair once being shut out at the National Magazine Awards — and for his “bad food restaurants.” But it was in 2011 when Trump first glimpsed the power of Twitter, using it to amplify his racist “birther” conspiracy theory against Barack Obama. By the time he started running for president in 2015, Trump could break into the live programs of all three cable-news networks by sending an incendiary tweet. From then on, he variously threatened the news media, North Korea (with an implied nuclear strike), and members of Congress. The president shamelessly retweeted propaganda from white supremacists and spread misinformation about the coronavirus pandemic. He tweeted “LIBERATE MICHIGAN” and apparently inspired a militia plot to kidnap and murder the state’s Democratic governor. Through it all, he attacked the integrity of the election.
In other words, anyone not living under a rock for the past five years knew Trump used Twitter to incite violence and spread disinformation to undermine the integrity of elections. It was only in the run-up to the 2020 election that Twitter did anything about it, announcing a suite of new actions meant to curb malefactors on the site, chief among them the president.