A question some wonder in this day of our digital and social age is was it right or wrong for major social media platforms to deplatform President Trump? My opinion from the standpoint of looking at all facts from all sides? I believe it was the right move to deplatform Trump. Here’s why…

Let’s use Twitter as an example. Beginning in 2019, Twitter implemented a Glorification of violence policy act which states:

You may not threaten violence against an individual or a group of people. We also prohibit the glorification of violence.

Glorifying violent acts could inspire others to take part in similar acts of violence. Additionally, glorifying violent events where people were targeted on the basis of their protected characteristics (including: race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or serious disease) could incite or lead to further violence motivated by hatred and intolerance. For these reasons, we have a policy against content that glorifies acts of violence in a way that may inspire others to replicate those violent acts and cause real offline harm, or events where members of a protected group were the primary targets or victims.

Under this policy, you can’t glorify, celebrate, praise or condone violent crimes, violent events where people were targeted because of their membership in a protected group, or the perpetrators of such acts. We define glorification to include praising, celebrating, or condoning statements, such as “I’m glad this happened”, “This person is my hero”, “I wish more people did things like this”, or “I hope this inspires others to act”.

Violations of this policy include, but are not limited to, glorifying, praising, condoning, or celebrating:

* violent acts committed by civilians that resulted in death or serious physical injury, e.g., murders, mass shootings;

* attacks carried out by terrorist organizations or violent extremist groups (as defined by our terrorism and violent extremism policy); and

* violent events that targeted protected groups, e.g., the Holocaust, Rwandan genocide

You can read up more on this by clicking here. On Friday, January 8th 2021, just two days after the horrific events at the Capitol, Twitter permanently suspended Trump from its platform. In Twitter’s own words from their official statement on Mr. Trump’s suspension:

On January 8, 2021, President Donald J. Trump Tweeted:

“The 75,000,000 great American Patriots who voted for me, AMERICA FIRST, and MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN, will have a GIANT VOICE long into the future. They will not be disrespected or treated unfairly in any way, shape or form!!!”

Shortly thereafter, the President Tweeted:

“To all of those who have asked, I will not be going to the Inauguration on January 20th.”

Due to the ongoing tensions in the United States, and an uptick in the global conversation in regards to the people who violently stormed the Capitol on January 6, 2021, these two Tweets must be read in the context of broader events in the country and the ways in which the President’s statements can be mobilized by different audiences, including to incite violence, as well as in the context of the pattern of behavior from this account in recent weeks. After assessing the language in these Tweets against our Glorification of Violence policy, we have determined that these Tweets are in violation of the Glorification of Violence Policy and the user @realDonaldTrump should be immediately permanently suspended from the service.

Assessment

We assessed the two Tweets referenced above under our Glorification of Violence policy, which aims to prevent the glorification of violence that could inspire others to replicate violent acts and determined that they were highly likely to encourage and inspire people to replicate the criminal acts that took place at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.

This determination is based on a number of factors, including:

*  President Trump’s statement that he will not be attending the Inauguration is being received by a number of his supporters as further confirmation that the election was not legitimate and is seen as him disavowing his previous claim made via two Tweets (1, 2) by his Deputy Chief of Staff, Dan Scavino, that there would be an “orderly transition” on January 20th.

*  The second Tweet may 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 use of the words “American Patriots” to describe some of his supporters is also being interpreted as support for those committing violent acts at the US Capitol.

*  The mention of his supporters having a “GIANT VOICE long into the future” and that “They will not be disrespected or treated unfairly in any way, shape or form!!!” is being interpreted as further indication that President Trump does not plan to facilitate an “orderly transition” and instead that he plans to continue to support, empower, and shield those who believe he won the election.

*  Plans for future armed protests have already begun proliferating on and off-Twitter, including a proposed secondary attack on the US Capitol and state capitol buildings on January 17, 2021.

* As such, our determination is that the two Tweets above are likely to inspire others to replicate the violent acts that took place on January 6, 2021, and that there are multiple indicators that they are being received and understood as encouragement to do so.

So from these standpoints in Twitter’s own guidelines this is pretty much game, set, match for Trump. Let’s be honest folks, when it comes to social media platforms such as Twitter, Youtube, Parlor, Twitch, etc, etc, how many of us actually read the Rules & Guidelines when signing up to use that service? Show me a person that always does and I’ll encourage them to become a lawyer! Here’s another one, how many of you actually read your email thoroughly when your favorite social media platform is alerting you of important updates and revisions of its guidelines and policies? Most people quietly skim emails like this and automatically delete such content.

When you really dive into social media platforms and read the user agreements on terms and conditions of using that platform it’s easy to see how Trump fell into violation. The minute Trump shared his messages about voter fraud, winning the election, inciting violence on the Capitol in series of messages & videos shared on every platform he’s on with help from a social app like BUFFER, he placed himself in violation.

Was his Freedom of Speech violated? No. It was not violated when you think about it as every time Trump put out misinformation on the election he was never banned. He was able to continue speaking his mind freely. It wasn’t until the acts at the Capitol that resulted in chaos and deaths was it no longer a case of Freedom of Speech. It became a case of insurrection from a Constitutional standpoint and the oath Trump swore when taking office. If you or I were to use our social media platforms in the same fashion as the former President then we should and would be deplatformed as well.

Deplatforming Trump, right or wrong?

The real issue if there’s any here is why certain social platforms banned the former President when he or his administration have never used their platform and those platform’s coarse of action can not be validated in their Terms and Conditions. Take for example Pinterest. They claim “Pinterest isn’t a place for threats, promotion of violence or hateful content,” a Pinterest spokesperson said. “Our team is continuing to monitor and remove harmful content, including misinformation and conspiracy theories that may incite violence.” Trump doesn’t have a Pinterest account. Pinterest also claims that they try to stay away from political content yet a simple search using keywords brings up many. Let’s look at Spotify next. Spotify banned Trump from ever having an account. Marinate on this one folks…Spotify banning someone from using their services. Spotify is a music streaming and podcasting platform. In my research for Terms and Conditions of Spotify I could not find where Spotify was in the right by law on their side to make such a decision. Even a company like STRIPE, which only uses software and APIs to accept payments, send payouts, and manage their businesses online has banned Trump as they claim they will no longer process payments for President Trump’s campaign. After reading their Terms of Services I found no clause whatsoever like on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc that could at least explain in black and white how such a drastic move could hold up and it doesn’t.

Should any special considerations be taken into account when social media owners evaluate posts from marginalized racial groups? Thus far I feel the social media owners behind these groups have been doing their very best so far. Has there been hiccups here and there? Sure, but it comes with the territory. Social media has only existed for over 40 years but never really taking off until Facebook launched in 2006. If anything there needs to be a better job in monitoring private groups that seek to magnify, incite or ignite violence, mass misinformation, and physical harm to society. Also needs to be a better job coordinating with law enforcement. Most importantly there needs to be a better job from us as individuals where if we see something, say something. A simple shutdown of a group not in compliance doesn’t resolve the issue as it’s like kicking of a empty can down the street. Someone else will eventually pick up that can and maybe give it a new home.

We as a society need to be very mindful about when we hear of companies or social media platforms deplatforming someone. There are those behind these platforms that mean well in full transparency and executes their rules in black and white for all to see. There’s also those that believe in trends and monkey see, monkey do. For them it’s a ploy for attention and growing their while getting good press. It’s no different then hearing the constant “WE’RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER” message you’ve heard by now during these months of the pandemic. Sure that’s very comforting to hear but then you realize 20 minutes later after you drove that new car out the lot you really didn’t need a new car. You simply were asking for directions…

Also by Lee Sanders:

Dave Chappelle Tackles Trump, COVID-19, Racism in ‘Saturday Night Live’ Monologue

Vince McMahon Inducting Donald Trump Into WWE Hall of Fame

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