Twitter Will Never Ban Donald Trump
Minnesota representative and Deputy Chair of the DNC Keith Ellison recently called on Twitter to ban Donald Trump once and for all, joining countless publications who have made the same demand. And currently, nearly 72,000 people have signed an online petition asking for the same. Unfortunately for all those dreaming of a Trump-free Twitter, it is almost certainly never going to happen.
The case for banning Trump from Twitter goes something like this: He consistently violates the site’s terms of service, up to and including the incitement of violence. Simple enough.
The case for letting Trump keep his account gets a bit murkier. “He’s having a real-time conversation with the world,” Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey told CNN. “And I think that’s something we should learn from.” Twitter has also asserted that having Trump on Twitter is “good” and that “the more that happens, the better we are going to be at showing what’s going on in the world.” None of which means very much, and doesn’t address the actual issues that Trump’s Twitter behavior raises.
In truth, it should be a simple conversation. Trump may be good for business, but his ability to inspire swarming masses of trolls makes his continued use of the platform dangerous. Twitter has already banned Milo Yiannopoulos, right-wing troll Chuck Johnson, and self-declared “anti-feminist” writer Robert Stacy McCain for abusive behavior. So Twitter’s rules do seem to apply in some cases.
Just not, apparently, for Trump, who has violated Twitter’s terms of service enough times to get banned–or at least suspended–several times over by now. No, really; we checked.
Twitter claims that users “may not use our service for any unlawful purposes or in furtherance of illegal activities.” Whoops!
Back in March, during the first Trumpcare debacles, both of Donald Trump’s Twitter accounts (@realdonaldtrump and @POTUS) sent out tweets urging the American people to contact their representatives in support of the AHCA.
White House-produced video accompanied both tweets. As it just so happens, the appropriations bill includes a section specifically prohibiting this:
No part of any funds appropriated in this or any other Act shall be used by an agency of the executive branch, other than for normal and recognized executive-legislative relationships, for publicity or propaganda purposes, and for the preparation, distribution or use of any kit, pamphlet, booklet, publication, radio, television, or film presentation designed to support or defeat legislation pending before the Congress, except in presentation to the Congress itself.
Even the White House couldn’t defend it much. When asked whether the tweets constituted a violation, Spicer told reporters, “It is not… the president… it doesn’t… that is not applicable to the president, no.” Of course, it is explicitly applicable to the president, considering that he is effectively is the executive branch. As Scot Amey, general counsel at the Project on Government Oversight, told ThinkProgress, “Based on the letter of the law, the lobbying provision would apply to the White House and any White House official. Any lobbying for the health care bill violates that ban.”
Otherwise, take your pick of tweets in which Trump uses his public office for private gain, which specifically violates the code of federal regulation. Like when Trump promoted his private, for-profit club Mar-a-Lago here. Or here. Or even here.
According to Twitter, “You may not make threats of violence or promote violence, including threatening or promoting terrorism.” But perhaps you remember Trump’s CNN tweet.
In isolation, the video seems mostly meaningless if not harmless. But taken in context of Trump’s ongoing war with the media, his history of calling for violence against those he finds issue with, and the recent physical assault of a Guardian reporter, the tweet arguably constitutes a promotion of violence. And as Twitter itself says in its Hateful Conduct Policy, “context matters.”
Twitter says, “You may not incite or engage in the targeted abuse or harassment of others.” As The New York Times has documented, Trump has targeted 337 different entities on Twitter, including a recent barrage lobbed at TV host Mika Brzezinski.
Trump had previously referred to Brzezinski as “crazy and very dumb,” “crazy,” a “clown,” “very insecure,” “off the wall,” a “mess!,” “not very bright,” “neurotic,” and someone who “has gone wild with hate.”
Twitter even makes a point to note that its harassment policy includes “inciting others to harass another account.” Like, for instance, Trump’s attack on Indianapolis union leader Chuck Jones.
Jones told IndyStar that he then received calls from Trump supporters “calling me names, wanting to know if I have children,” he said. “I better watch out for myself, and they know what kind of car I drive, that I better watch out for my kids.” Again, exactly the kind of behavior that pushed Twitter to permanently ban Milo Yiannopoulos.
Let’s look at some things Trump has said about Muslims on Twitter:
On December 10, 2015: “The United Kingdom is trying hard to disguise their massive Muslim problem. Everybody is wise to what is happening, very sad! Be honest.”
On November 30, 2016: “ISIS is taking credit for the terrible stabbing attack at Ohio State University by a Somali refugee who should not have been in our country.”
In that last instance, it should be noted that the perpetrator, Abdul Razak Ali Artan, had been a legal permanent resident since 2014.
Twitter also makes sure to note in its policy that it absolutely does not tolerate “behavior that incites fear about a protected group.” Inciting fear about specific groups of people is one of Trump’s only consistent platforms, and as you can see above, he clearly hasn’t shied away from using Twitter for that same goal.
We asked Twitter why it allows Trump to continue using the site despite what appear to be clear violations of its rules of conduct. A Twitter spokesperson kindly elucidated for us: “We do not comment on individual accounts, for privacy and security reasons.”
At this point, it’s almost absurd to litigate Trump’s specific violations. Doing so requires pretending that Twitter actually intends to apply its rules to all of its users equally. Granted, and to Trump’s credit, he has not yet impersonated someone on Twitter, nor has he released another person’s private information (at least not in a tweet). He also hasn’t violated copyright law, or used his account to spam followers with links to his weight loss program. So he hasn’t violated every rule just yet.
Still, if Twitter were ever going to ban Donald Trump, it has plenty of cause. It’s just lacking desire. And there’s no absolutely no reason to expect it to find that any soon.
via Wired Top Stories https://www.wired.com
July 17, 2017 at 11:36AM