Twitter said it has permanently suspended United States President Donald Trump’s account due to the risk of further incitement of violence after hundreds of his supporters stormed the US Capitol.
“After close review of recent Tweets from the @realDonaldTrump account and the context around them we have permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence,” the company said in a statement on Friday.
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Social media platforms have come under growing pressure to take further action against Trump in the wake of Wednesday’s riot, where crowds of Trump supporters breached the building amid chaotic scenes in which at least five people died.
Facebook announced on Thursday that Trump would be blocked from using the platform for the remainder of his term.
Twitter initially suspended Trump’s account for 12 hours on Wednesday after the president posted tweets during the riot in which he repeated baseless claims about fraud in the 2020 presidential election.
Trump was required to delete three rule-breaking tweets before his account was unblocked.
“In the context of horrific events this week, we made it clear on Wednesday that additional violations of the Twitter Rules would potentially result in this very course of action. Our public interest framework exists to enable the public to hear from elected officials and world leaders directly. It is built on a principle that the people have a right to hold power to account in the open.”
Trump returned to Twitter on Thursday with a video acknowledging that President-elect Joe Biden would be the next US president and said his focus would be on a smooth transition of power to the next administration.
But on Friday, he posted a series of tweets including one in which he said he would not attend Biden’s swearing-in ceremony on January 20 and one in which he referred to his supporters as patriots.
The company said in its statement that two of Trump’s tweets on Friday violated its glorification of violence policy.
— Susanne Craig (@susannecraig) January 8, 2021
In the first tweet that violated this policy, according to Twitter, Trump said 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!!!”
Twitter said in its assessment this tweet “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.”
In a separate tweet, Trump said: “To all of those who have asked, I will not be going to the Inauguration on January 20th.”
Twitter said “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 “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 White House did not immediately issue a statement in response to the permanent suspension.
Jim Anderson, CEO of Social Flow, a social media optimisation company, told Al Jazeera the suspension was “a very big deal. I will say it’s had a sense of inevitably.”
Anderson referenced the previous, temporary suspension of Trump’s account following the violence at the Capitol.
“What’s a little bit surprising is that Twitter got together” and “preemptively decided” to suspend Trump’s account due to fear of further violence, Anderson said.
Reporting from Washington, DC, Al Jazeera’s Gabriel Elizondo agreed about the importance of the suspension. He noted that Trump has used his Twitter account “effectively” and as “his own personal newspaper”.
“He’s used this as a very powerful tool for many years now. This move by Twitter was quite significant.”