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Twitter permanently suspends Donald Trump’s account, cites ‘incitement of violence’ risk

Both Twitter and Facebook have long afforded Trump special privileges as a sitting elected world leader, saying that tweets that may violate the company's policies would not be removed because they were in the public interest.

By: Reuters | New York, Washington |
Updated: January 9, 2021 1:32:44 pm
This Friday, Jan. 8, 2021 image shows the suspended Twitter account of President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Tali Arbel)

Twitter Inc said on Friday that it has permanently suspended US President Donald Trump’s account due to the risk of further incitement of violence following the storming of the US Capitol on Wednesday by hundreds of his supporters.

The move to suspend Trump’s account, which had more than 88 million followers, silences his primary megaphone days before the end of his term and follows years of debate about how social media companies should moderate the accounts of powerful global leaders.

“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,” the company said in a tweet.

Social media companies have cracked down on Trump’s accounts in the wake of the turmoil in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, which led to five deaths.

Facebook Inc said earlier this week it was suspending his account through until at least the end of his presidential term. The Republican president is due to hand over to Democratic President-elect Joe Biden on Jan. 20.

The White House did not immediately comment.

In a blog post on Friday, Twitter said that two of the president’s tweets posted that day were in violation of its policy against the glorification of violence.

Twitter had temporarily blocked Trump’s account on Wednesday following the siege of Capitol Hill, and warned that additional violations by the president’s accounts would result in a permanent suspension. Trump was required to delete three rule-breaking tweets before his account was unblocked.

He returned to Twitter on Thursday with a video acknowledging that Biden would be the next.

Twitter said that Trump’s tweet that he would not be attending Biden’s inauguration was being received by a number of his supporters as further confirmation that the Nov. 3 election that he lost was not legitimate.

It said another tweet praising “American Patriots” and saying his supporters “will not be disrespected or treated unfairly in any way, shape or form!!!” could be seen as “further indication that President Trump does not plan to facilitate an orderly transition.”

Trump’s personal @realDonaldTrump account, which has sometimes fired off more than 100 tweets a day, has been used to reach supporters, spread misinformation and even fire staff.

Both Twitter and Facebook have long afforded Trump special privileges as a sitting elected world leader, saying that tweets that may violate the company’s policies would not be removed because they were in the public interest.

They said he would lose access to those privileges upon leaving office, however. Twitter last year started labeling and putting warnings on Trump’s tweets last year for repeatedly violating its rules, including its policies against glorifying violence, manipulated media or sharing potentially misleading information about voting processes.

Trump still has access to the official @WhiteHouse and @POTUS accounts but will lose this when his presidential term ends. Asked if Trump could create another account, a Twitter spokeswoman said if the company had reason to believe he was using accounts to evade Friday’s suspension, those accounts too could be suspended.

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