@realdonaldtrump goes dark as Twitter, Facebook reassess risk after Capitol meleeJanuary 23, 2021
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Twitter, the social media platform that helped fuel President Trump's rise to power and gave him a largely unfiltered medium for reaching tens of millions of followers, has shut down his account, citing the risk of further violence after a mob of his supporters forced their way into the U.S. Capitol.
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The San Francisco-based social media giant's move follows Facebook's decision to block access to Trump's account at least through the end of his presidency, now 12 days away. While both companies and their rivals had long faced criticism that some of the president's posts violated their content policies, their leaders had asserted that voters needed to know the views of government officials.
"Our public interest framework exists to enable the public to hear from elected officials and world leaders directly," Twitter said in an unsigned blog post explaining its decision on Friday. "It is built on a principle that the people have a right to hold power to account in the open."
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But after intensive review of recent posts from the president's account and how they are being "received and interpreted on and off Twitter," the company said, "we have permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence."
The White House didn't immediately respond to a request for comment from Fox on the decision.
Twitter had threatened harsher action against Trump after suspending his account temporarily on Wednesday when supporters acting on the president's urging to march to Capitol Hill forced their way into the storied building as the House and Senate were counting Electoral College votes that handed the White House to Trump's Democratic rival, Joe Biden.
The company opted to make good on its threat after two tweets from the president on Friday, which Twitter said violated its rules against glorifying violence.
One, in which Trump announced he wouldn't attend Biden's inauguration — a tradition rarely broken since it symbolizes the peaceful transfer of power — "is being received by a number of his supporters as further confirmation that the election was not legitimate," Twitter said.
It might also "serve as encouragement to those potentially considering violent acts that the inauguration would be a “safe” target, as he will not be attending," the company said.
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In the other post, Trump's statement that his supporters will have a “GIANT VOICE long into the future” and that “They will not be disrespected or treated unfairly in any way, shape or form!!!” has been perceived as a signal that he doesn't plan to oversee an orderly transition and instead will continue to "support, empower, and shield those who believe he won the election," Twitter said.
Plans for future armed protests have already begun proliferating on and off-Twitter, the company noted.
Taken together, the two posts "are likely to inspire others to replicate the violent acts that took place on January 6, 2021," Twitter said. "There are multiple indicators that they are being received and understood as encouragement to do so."
In Wednesday's siege alone, one protestor was shot and killed, and a Capitol Police officer was injured after which he died while law enforcement officers fought to regain control of the building and keep lawmakers safe.
Three other deaths were linked to medical emergencies, and more than 70 people have since been arrested.
While the moves by Facebook and Twitter were widely sought, they mark the end of an era. Twitter has now effectively ghosted a president whose show business background enabled him to leverage it like no other politician, rebuking what he perceived as disloyalty and rattling the stock of Fortune 500 companies with regulatory musings.
Trump had amassed 88.8 million followers as of November, the sixth-highest audience of any Twitter user, according to Brandwatch, though he still ranked behind former President Barack Obama, who had nearly 128 million.
Trump, however, has long contended his following would be much higher absent the shadow-banning of conservatives, a practice in which he claims liberal Silicon Valley companies engage, going so far as to make the case to Dorsey himself in an Oval Office meeting in 2019.
It was a theme picked up Friday night by Donald Trump Jr., the president's oldest son, who invoked the dystopian society of George Orwell's classic novel, "1984."
"Free-speech no longer exists in America," said Trump Jr., who has run the family business with his brother, Eric, during their father's presidency. "It died with big tech and what’s left is only there for a chosen few. This is absolute insanity."
Cutting Trump off from social media would be "a huge crushing blow to his prospects to being a kingmaker in the future because those are his go-to platforms," longtime Republican consultant David Carney, a veteran of multiple presidential campaigns over the past three decades and currently a top political adviser for Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, told Fox News before Twitter's decision. "It will be difficult to be much of an influencer without those platforms."
Fox News reporters Michael Ruiz and Paul Steinhauser contributed to this article
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