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Donald Trump was banned from popular social media sites following the violence on Capitol Hill, where a mob of his supporters rioted as an attempt to overturn his loss in the 2020 presidential election.

He was banned from using both Facebook and Instagram earlier this month. “We believe the risks of allowing the President to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great,” said Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in a post made on Jan. 7. “Therefore, we are extending the block we have placed on his Facebook and Instagram accounts indefinitely and for at least the next two weeks until the peaceful transition of power is complete,” he added.

Twitter permanently suspended Trump’s account due to “the risk of further incitement of violence” a day later. Youtube also removed content from Trump’s channel for the same reason. 

Other social media sites such as Reddit banned a pro-Trump subreddit group, r/donaldtrump.

Actions taken by tech corporations

Parler is a social media platform that is most popular amongst conservatives and Trump supporters. The app advertises itself as a platform for free speech, where users can post "without fear of being 'de-platformed' for their views." Many of Trump's supporters turned to Parler following Facebook and Twitter’s actions this month.

However, Parler was soon removed from both Android’s Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store. Amazon Web Services, which hosts Parler, also suspended web hosting service to Parler, forcing the platform offline. Parler CEO John Matze said that the platform has community guidelines that forbid violence. Parler has a system to “quickly and transparently enforce these rules and remove prohibited content."

Questions of free speech violation

Many people, including Trump himself, have complained that being banned from social media is an infringement of the First Amendment, which protects freedom of speech. Hours after he got banned Trump released a statement saying: “Twitter is not about FREE SPEECH. They are all about promoting a Radical Left platform where some of the most vicious people in the world are allowed to speak freely." 

In the past, both Facebook and Twitter have long defended Trump’s right to freedom of speech when posting on their platforms, arguing that he was allowed to speak on matters that are in the public interest. However, all social platforms have a set of guidelines users have to follow when using their services. Failing to comply results in denial of that service. Moreover, the First Amendment applies to government behaviour. Social media sites are owned by private businesses. 

Trump was charged with “incitement of insurrection” due to the violence at the capitol. He remains the only president in American history who has been impeached more than once. Trump urged his supporters to “peacefully and patriotically” make their voices heard but he also told them to “fight like hell” while making false claims that the election was stolen from him. 

The article of impeachment states that Trump wilfully made statements that encouraged and foreseeably resulted in lawless action at the Capitol", leading to the violence and loss of life.

Two weeks after Trump was impeached a second time, Joe Biden’s presidential inauguration took place. A plan of what the first ten days will look like under a Biden administration is one of the changes with the new government.

 

Aru Kaul

Toronto MU '23

I'm Aru and I'm a journalism student at Ryerson University. I hope to use my writing to leave an impact on readers, create positive change and enhance my own skills!
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