Social Media Hits Mute After the Capitol Riot
Bloomberg Businessweek|January 18, 2021
Facebook and Twitter can block the president, but his supporters will move on
JOSHUA BRUSTEIN

The tweet on Jan. 8 that ultimately pushed Twitter Inc. to ban its most high-profile user didn’t look much different from thousands of others Donald Trump had sent during his presidency. Two days earlier the social network had removed a video rant in which he repeated baseless claims of election fraud and told armed rioters in the U.S. Capitol that he loved them. Using Twitter to tell the 75 million “American Patriots” who made up his political base that they would “have a GIANT VOICE long into the future” was mild by comparison.

But Twitter had warned Trump that another rule violation would lead to a ban. So after a presidency spent using the network to move markets, promote conspiracy theories, and threaten war, Trump’s violation on Jan. 8 of the company’s “Glorification of Violence” policy was the final straw. Over a 48-hour stretch he was also blocked or suspended from almost every major social media channel— including Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat—and kept from using the e-commerce platform Shopify to sell his signature red hats and other merchandise.

The efforts were designed to limit the rhetoric that had inspired a mob to mount a violent attempt to overturn the results of November’s presidential election. Twitter said the way Trump’s followers interpreted his messages was as important as the wording itself, citing plans percolating online for them to commit more violence in the near future.

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