In the context of horrific events this week, Twitter made it clear on Wednesday that additional violations of the Twitter Rules would potentially result in this very course of action. Twitter public interest framework exists to enable the public to hear from elected officials and world leaders directly. It is built on the principle that the people have a right to hold power to account in the open.
However, Twitter made it clear going back years that these accounts are not above their rules entirely and cannot use Twitter to incite violence, among other things. Twitter will continue to be transparent around its policies and their enforcement.
Below is a comprehensive analysis of Twitter’s policy enforcement approach in this case.
On January 8, 2021, President Donald J. Trump Tweeted:
“The 75,000,000 great American Patriots who voted for me, AMERICA FIRST, and MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN, will have a GIANT VOICE long into the future. They will not be disrespected or treated unfairly in any way, shape or form!!!”
Shortly thereafter, the President Tweeted:
“To all of those who have asked, I will not be going to the Inauguration on January 20th.”
Due to the ongoing tensions in the United States, and an uptick in the global conversation in regards to the people who violently stormed the Capitol on January 6, 2021, these two Tweets must be read in the context of broader events in the country and the ways in which the President’s statements can be mobilized by different audiences, including to incite violence, as well as in the context of the pattern of behavior from this account in recent weeks. After assessing the language in these Tweets against their Glorification of Violence policy, they 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.
Twitter assessed the two Tweets referenced above under the Glorification of Violence policy, which aims to prevent the glorification of violence that could inspire others to replicate violent acts and determined that they were highly likely to encourage and inspire people to replicate the criminal acts that took place at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.
This determination is based on a number of factors, including:
- President Trump’s statement that he will not be attending the Inauguration is being received by a number of his supporters as further confirmation that the election was not legitimate and is seen as him disavowing his previous claim made via two Tweets (1, 2) by his Deputy Chief of Staff, Dan Scavino, that there would be an “orderly transition” on January 20th.
- The second Tweet may also serve as an encouragement to those potentially considering violent acts that the Inauguration would be a “safe” target, as he will not be attending.
- The use of the words “American Patriots” to describe some of his supporters are also being interpreted as support for those committing violent acts at the US Capitol.
- The mention of his supporters had a “GIANT VOICE long into the future” and that “They will not be disrespected or treated unfairly in any way, shape or form!!!” is being interpreted as a further indication that President Trump does not plan to facilitate an “orderly transition” and instead of that he plans to continue to support, empower, and shield those who believe he won the election.
- 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.
As such, their determination is that the two Tweets above are likely to inspire others to replicate the violent acts that took place on January 6, 2021, and that there are multiple indicators that they are being received and understood as an encouragement to do so.