Monday, 11 January 2021

All the social media platforms that have banned or restricted U.S. President J. Trump so far may have limited the reach of his venom, but this does not mean the violence he unleashed last week is over


"I think I wouldn't be here [as U.S. President] if I didn't have social media. The media is fake. And frankly if I didn't have social media I would have no way of getting out my voice."  [Donald Trump during U.S. "60 Minutes" interview, October 2020]

Donald J. Trump appears to have had a presence on social media since at least 2008-09.

At the time he was reasonably well-known to US mainstream media, but outside of America his name was not as recognisable to the average person.

However it was only once Senator Barack Obama stood in the 2008 Democratic presidential primaries and then became the Democratic candidate in the 56th American presidential election that the rest of the world began to really notice Trump.

However, much of the coverage of his views came second-hand in the mainstream media until May 2009.

By then Donald Trump had become a parody of his younger self, but did not at first glance appear to be highly dysfunctional. He came across as an eccentric and egotistical individual fond of conspiracy theories – especially if those theories supported his aversion to the idea of an African-American being President of the United States of America.

His open dislike of Barack Obama raised his own social media profile and he became adept at using Twitter and Facebook to express his personal world view.

Sometime between 2008 and 2012 Donald Trump began to flirt with the idea of running for US president himself, but it wasn’t until 2015 that he fully committed to the idea of standing in the Republican presidential primaries.

First as a political candidate and then in 2016 as president-elect Donald Trump was allowed a lot of latitude by social media platforms and he began to use social media as a weapon against all those he perceived as enemies.

There was so little pushback by management of the social media platforms that he frequented that by the time he became president I’m sure he saw himself as unassailable and, in many respects as the highest office holder in the United States he was.

In May 2020 his personal Twitter account reportedly had over 80 million followers, even though by then it was filled almost entirely with self-praise, blatant lies, insults, threats and political conspiracy allegations.

Then came his political defeat in the 2020 presidential election and a growing realisation that no matter how hard he tried he could not reverse the will of the people or the Electoral College votes.

It was then, when he thought he had nothing left to lose, that he became even more vengeful and recklessly destructive, setting in motion the events of 6 January 2021 when pro-Trump domestic terrorists violently forced their way into the US Congress in an effort to stop a joint sitting of the House of Representatives and Senate formally recording the Electoral College vote count that confirmed Joe Biden as the new president-elect who would be inaugurated on 20 January 2021.

Before that Wednesday ended the giants of the Internet began to show Donald J. Trump that even he could go too far and began to starve him of what political oxygen he had left.

First Twitter pulled the plug on his incitement of violence and sedition with a 12-hour suspension which quickly turned into the permanent expulsion of his account @realDonaldTrump. Then the list began to grow until 16 social media platforms/Internet services have slammed the door in his face, or the faces of his supporters, to date.

Axios, 7 January 2020:

Platforms are rapidly removing Donald Trump’s account or accounts affiliated with pro-Trump violence and conspiracies, like QAnon and #StoptheSteal.

Here is a running list:


WHAT: Reddit has banned the subreddit group "r/DonaldTrump," a spokesperson confirmed to Axios on Friday.

COMMENT: "Reddit's site-wide policies prohibit content that promotes hate, or encourages, glorifies, incites, or calls for violence against groups of people or individuals. In accordance with this, we have been proactively reaching out to moderators to remind them of our policies and to offer support or resources as needed," a spokesperson tells Axios.

CONTEXT: While not an official group or page hosted by the president, it's one of the company's largest political communities dedicated to support for President Trump.


WHAT: Twitch disabled Trump's channel, citing the move as a "necessary step" to protect its community and "prevent Twitch from being used to incite further violence."

COMMENT: “In light of yesterday’s shocking attack on the Capitol, we have disabled President Trump’s Twitch channel. Given the current extraordinary circumstances and the President's incendiary rhetoric, we believe this is a necessary step to protect our community and prevent Twitch from being used to incite further violence," a spokesperson told Axios.

CONTEXT: Twitch was one of the first platforms in June to temporarily ban Trump's channel for hateful content around the Black Lives Matter protests over the summer.


WHAT: Shopify took down two online stores affiliated with Trump — his organization and his campaign's merchandise sites — for violating its policies on supporting violence.

COMMENT: "Shopify does not tolerate actions that invite violence. Based on recent events, we have determined that the actions by President Donald J. Trump violate our acceptable Use Policy, which prohibits promotion or support of organizations, platforms or people that threaten or condone violence to further a cause. As a result, we have terminated stores affiliated with President Trump." - a spokesperson told The Financial Times.

CONTEXT: Shopify had until Friday gone the farthest in actually de-platforming Trump, as his stores were permanently removed, not temporarily disabled.


WHAT: Twitter announced Friday the platform will permanently ban President Trump's account effective immediately.

COMMENT: "After close review of recent Tweets from the @realDonaldTrump account and the context around them we have permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence," Twitter said in a statement.

CONTEXT: It's Twitter's strongest-ever action against the president's account and comes in response to the "risk of further incitement of violence," per the social media company.


WHAT: Google has pulled Parler, a social media app for conservatives and far-right extremists.

COMMENT: "In order to protect user safety on Google Play, our longstanding policies require that apps displaying user-generated content have moderation policies and enforcement that removes egregious content like posts that incite violence," a Google spokesperson said.

CONTEXT: Google’s move immediately suspends Parler, going further than Apple's earlier decision to remove the app unless it submits a content moderation plan.


WHAT: YouTube is accelerating its enforcement of election misinformation and voter fraud claims against Trump and other channels.

COMMENT: "Due to the extraordinary events that transpired yesterday, and given that the election results have been certified, any channel posting new videos with these false claims in violation of our policies will now receive a strike, a penalty which temporarily restricts uploading or live-streaming. Channels that receive three strikes in the same 90-day period will be permanently removed from YouTube," Alex Joseph, a YouTube spokesperson, told Axios.

CONTEXT: YouTube is typically slow to take action on bad content and accounts. Its response, while swift, was somewhat benign compared to competitors removing or disabling Trump's account. YouTube did remove the video Trump posted Wednesday that addressed the Capitol violence without fully condemning it.


WHAT: Facebook banned Donald Trump from posting on his Facebook accounts for at least the next two weeks until the transition of power to President-elect Joe Biden is complete.

COMMENT: "We believe the risks of allowing the President to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great," CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a post Thursday.

CONTEXT: On Wednesday, Facebook did remove the video Trump posted Wednesday addressing the violence without fully condemning it before taking greater action against Trump on Thursday.


WHAT: Instagram banned Donald Trump from posting on his Facebook accounts for at least the next two weeks until the transition of power to President-elect Joe Biden is complete.

COMMENT: "We believe the risks of allowing the President to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great," Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a post Thursday.

CONTEXT: On Wednesday, Instagram's parent Facebook did remove the video Trump posted addressing the violence without fully condemning it before taking greater action against Trump on Thursday.


WHAT: Snapchat disabled Trump's Snapchat account Wednesday because it believes the account promotes and spreads hate and incites violence, a spokesperson said.

COMMENT: "We can confirm that earlier today we locked President Trump's Snapchat account," Snap spokesperson Rachel Racusen told Axios.

CONTEXT: Snapchat was one of the first major social platforms to take serious action on Trump's account for threats to democracy in June when the company said it stopped promoting his account in its "Discover" section, which features professional content and other prominent people.


WHAT: TikTok is removing content violations and redirecting hashtags like #stormthecapitol and #patriotparty to its community guidelines.

COMMENT: "Hateful behavior and violence have no place on TikTok. Content or accounts that seek to incite, glorify, or promote violence violate our Community Guidelines and will be removed," a TikTok spokesperson said.

CONTEXT: Other hashtags like #stopthesteal and #QAnon have been redirected since last year.


WHAT: Apple on Friday threatened to remove right-wing-friendly social media app Parler from its App Store if Parler doesn’t lay out a plan to moderate its content.

COMMENT: "We have received numerous complaints regarding objectionable content in your Parler service, accusations that the Parler app was used to plan, coordinate, and facilitate the illegal activities in Washington D.C. on January 6, 2021 that led (among other things) to loss of life, numerous injuries, and the destruction of property,” Apple wrote to Parler in an email obtained by BuzzFeed News. “The app also appears to continue to be used to plan and facilitate yet further illegal and dangerous activities.”

CONTEXT: Apple is flexing its power to try to get Parler to moderate its content. [on 10 January 2021 Apple suspended the Parler App from its online store. This means the app can no longer be downloaded to an iPhone]


WHAT: Discord says it has banned server The Donald, per journalist Casey Newton.

COMMENT: "While there is no evidence of the server being used to organize the Jan 6 riots, Discord decided to ban the entire server today due to its overt connection to an online forum used to incite violence and plan an armed insurrection in the United States," per Mother Jones' Ali Breland.

CONTEXT: The Discord account was connected to the pro-Trump social network TheDonald.Win and the r/theDonald subreddit that was banned Friday.


WHAT: Pinterest has been limiting hashtags related to pro-Trump topics such as #StopTheSteal since around the November election, a spokesperson said.

COMMENT: "Pinterest isn’t a place for threats, promotion of violence or hateful content," a Pinterest spokesperson said. "Our team is continuing to monitor and removing harmful content, including misinformation and conspiracy theories that may incite violence.”

CONTEXT: Trump doesn't have a Pinterest account, and the platform has tried to stay away from political content, but Pinterest hasn't been able to squelch it completely.

The bottom line: Trump is quickly losing access to all the platforms where he once was able to spread his message freely, but groups of his supporters will still be able to gather online. [my red annotations]

Donald Trump joined Triller (an American video making & social networking platform) in mid-2020 but this site is yet to announce its position.

However, Twitch affiliate PornHub Update recently announced it too was banning Trump.

When Twitter removed Donald Trump’s personal account it appears to have cut off an est. 88,770,584 social media users from receiving his views directly into their timelines each day.

Gary Corby, the Trump campaign’s digital director tried to give Trump his account. Twitter promptly suspended him.

Twitter has also removed the Team Trump account and is selectively removing attempts by Donald Trump to place tweets on @POTUS which violate Twitter’s terms and conditions.

Individual Trump supporter accounts such as @linwoods, @FightBackLaw and @TheRISEofROD have been suspended for either spreading untruths about the 2020 presidential election or advocating lethal violence members of the US Congress.

According to Techcrunch, PayPal has been deactivating the accounts of some groups of Trump supporters since last week, who were using the money-transfer fintech to coordinate payments to underwrite the rioters’ actions on Capitol Hill. PayPal has been increasingly banning some political accounts, banning a far-right activist in 2019 and also banning a spate of far-right organizations in the wake of violent protests in Charlottesville in 2017. These bans so far do not appear to extend directly to the president himself.

Parler which apparently refuses to moderate its platform is also full of such threats - including incitement to assassinate the current US Vice-President for his perceived failure to support Donald Trump - according to Input. On Sunday 9 January 2021 alarmed at the proliferation of violent images and posts on this platform Amazon Web Services announced it would cut Parler from it cloud hosting as of 11:59pm, US Pacific Time (6pm Sydney Time, Monday 11 January 2021). Parler is then potentially offline for up to a week until it rebuild its website.

The naked violence that Donald Trump unleashed on 6 January which left five people dead is still a very real threat…….

"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 Inc, 8 January 2021]

Parler, 6 January 2021


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