Sarah E. Needleman, Wall Street Journal, January 8, 2021
Twitter Inc. banned President Trump’s personal account, citing the risk of further incitement of violence and closing off one of his main communication tools following the attack on the U.S. Capitol by a mob of his followers.
Twitter’s move late Friday capped two days of sharply escalating action by social-media companies in the wake of the riot that left five people dead in Washington, D.C., and fueled pressure on the platforms to do more to prevent additional violence.
Facebook Inc., which announced a temporary suspension of Mr. Trump after the riot, said Thursday that it would extend that action indefinitely—and at least through the end of Mr. Trump’s term. And late Friday Alphabet Inc.’s Google suspended from its app store the social-media app Parler, which some Trump supporters and other conservatives had flocked to over the past year, saying the service had violated its policies. Apple Inc. threatened to do the same.
Twitter also had initially suspended Mr. Trump from posting on a temporary basis that Wednesday night, saying his tweets had violated its policies and that further breaches could result in a permanent ban. The social-media company allowed him to resume posting on Thursday, and many critics of the president called on it to take more lasting action.
A few hours later, a statement from Mr. Trump was posted in several tweets on the @POTUS Twitter account. White House staffers have in the past operated the official government account, which has frequently retweeted posts from the president’s personal account.
“Twitter employees have coordinated with the Democrats and the Radical Left in removing my account from their platform, to silence me—and YOU, the 75,000,000 great patriots who voted for me,” the posts said. They added: “We have been negotiating with various other sites, and will have a big announcement soon, while we also look at the possibilities of building out our own platform in the near future. We will not be SILENCED!”
Twitter removed those new tweets from the @POTUS account soon after they were posted, saying the move was consistent with its policy against using other accounts to try to evade a suspension. “For government accounts, such as @POTUS and @WhiteHouse, we will not suspend those accounts permanently but will take action to limit their use,” a Twitter representative said.
Google said it acted against Parler because of “continued posting in the Parler app that seeks to incite ongoing violence in the U.S.,” which violated its requirements for sufficient moderation of egregious content for apps it distributes. “In light of this ongoing and urgent public safety threat, we are suspending the app’s listings from the Play Store until it addresses these issues,” a Google representative said.
Apple, citing similar concerns, said Parler has to provide detailed plans about “what you will do to improve moderation and content filtering your service for this kind of objectionable content going forward,” according to a notice provided to The Wall Street Journal by John Matze, Parler’s chief executive. Apple set a deadline of 24 hours for Parler’s compliance.
Other social-media companies placed indefinite bans on Mr. Trump this week, including Snapchat parent Snap Inc. and Amazon.com Inc.’s Twitch. A Snap spokeswoman said Thursday the president’s account was locked indefinitely because the company “will not amplify voices who incite racial violence and injustice.”
Twitter on Friday also suspended accounts related to Mr. Trump, including those of his campaign and one of its senior officials. Earlier in the day the company shut off the accounts of Michael Flynn, Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, and Sidney Powell, a lawyer who worked alongside Mr. Trump’s legal team.
The company also said Friday that it suspended several accounts associated with the far-right conspiracy group QAnon for violating its policy on coordinated harmful activity.