11 January 2021

Techdirt: “Not Easy, Not Unreasonable, Not Censorship: The Decision to Ban Trump from Twitter”

But here’s the more important point – especially directed at the people who will falsely claim that this is somehow censorship: President Trump is not being censored. He is not being limited. At any moment of any day (certainly for the next two weeks, and likely beyond) he can walk out of his office and have every major TV news channel (and every internet streaming platform) broadcast whatever he wants to say, and people will see it.

And to those who think that Twitter should have done this earlier, or that it would have made a difference, recognize that your concern is not so much with Twitter, but with Trump himself. Remember that while Trump might not be able to send a tweet right now, he still (literally) has the power to launch nuclear missiles at Twitter’s headquarters. And, really, that’s the problem. Trump is obviously too toxic for Twitter. But he’s also too toxic for the White House. And the real complaint shouldn’t be about Twitter or Facebook acting too late, but about Congress failing to do their job and remove the mad man from power.

Mike Masnick

An excellent point, one that I made years ago when people were celebrating that a Twitter employee deactivated Donald Trump’s account for a short time. As President of the United States, he won’t simply go away if he’s denied access to Twitter. Instead, he had the full support of the Republican party in Congress and of businessmen eager to implement their fiscal agenda, while mainstream media provided a massive amplifier to his messages – and profited in the process. Expecting Twitter to act as the single point of defense for democracy and free speech (and then complaining that social media has too much power over public discourse) is nonsensical, but it reflects the low confidence of the American public in their institutions.

Banning a sitting head of state does raise difficult questions though. How would similar measures apply to other countries, where Twitter and Facebook are not protected by the First Amendment? Authoritarian leaders restricted or banned from social networks would certainly seize the opportunity to label moderation measures as American cultural hegemony or intervention into internal affairs, and impose restrictions or fines on the social networks in return.

There is also the question of historical records: regardless of personal opinions, Trump’s tweets were a constant public reflection of his personality and should be preserved for the future. While there are already archiving methods in place, it would be good to have a official solution from Twitter. A sort of ‘frozen’ account, which can no longer post or delete tweets, a static page where people can no longer like, reply or retweet, but can see past replies – ideally with a prominent link to the reason for locking the account.

Post a Comment