Trump’s Twitter Suspension, A Retrospective

It’s still hard to believe that Trump was permanently suspended from twitter. Trump , afik, is the first and only public/government official  to have ever been banned from the site. It is easy to forgot just how important Trump’s Twitter account was, especially in 2020 during the pandemic, the BLM protests, and the U.S. presidential election, which saw Trump’s Twitter engagement surge as he tweeted up to 50 or more times a day. Trump’s Twitter account, along with Elon Musk, was so important and widely-followed, it was like a social network in and of itself within Twitter. By mid-2020, with the pandemic in full swing, Trump tweets would routinely  get anywhere from two-hundred thousand to half a million ‘likes’ and tens of thousands of comments, as the unending yet unproductive debate over masks, social distancing, Hydroxychloroquine, etc. raged on. [By comparison, Biden’s official ‘POTUS’ account gets maybe only 10-20% of the engagement as Trump’s account got] Nationwide BLM and antifa riots, combined with  the 2020 election, which Trump and his supporters contested as fraudulent, made Trump’s account the focal point of the ‘national debate’. Similar to Elon Musk, Trump used his Twitter account to bypass the press, who, like Musk, he generally held in low regard, and for good reason as the media was biased against him.

This made Twitter especially important to  Trump, because, unlike Biden, whose handlers prepare his tweets for him in advance, which are carefully crafted and assiduously edited, Trump composes his own tweets, often extemporaneously. To Biden, Twitter is little more than an extension of the White House press corps and CNN, subservient to whatever the agenda is. For Trump, he turned Twitter into a one-man press corps, bypassing traditional media avenues altogether. This unfortunately made Trump dependent on a private company that was inherently hostile and ideologically opposed to him and his followers, but who tolerated him anyway, at least until they had had enough and ejected him from the platform.

Then, as if the news cycle wasn’t intense enough already, the Capitol Hill protests erupted, which on January 6th, 2021, saw thousands of Trump supporters descend on Washington in protest the certification of Biden as the 46th president, but a couple hundred  of them illegally infiltrated the Capitol itself, prompting the evacuation of staff and causing a major but temporary disruption. Like a much scaled-down version of the ‘Nazi hunters,’ who for decades would continue to pursue Nazi ‘war criminals’ long after the war was over, the FBI, 4 months later, is still gathering leads and making arrests of protestors who entered the Capitol, which, to impart my own opinion, I think is excessive.

Anyway, on the day of the protests, Trump’s Twitter account was temporarily suspended. On the 7th, his account was restored, and Trump would make what would be his final two tweets, questioning the legitimacy of the election again, and then 12 or so hours later, on the 8th, his account was finally and permanently suspended for allegedly ‘inciting violence,’ which a favorite boilerplate excuse for social networks to ban users without having to provide any actual evidence or justification. Looking back, I am not sure how this was allowed to happen. Surely, there must have been some communication between the ‘Trump team’ and Twitter management to at least stipulate the terms and conditions for Trump being allowed to post or to give Trump sufficient warning. It seems like there was a communications breakdown between both parties. Trump was banned when he still had 10 days left in office, so technically he was still the president and this should have given him significant negotiating power.  But nope.

I cannot imagine how much it must suck for Trump to not be able to tweet. I can imagine if Trump had his account, taking swipes at Biden from the sidelines, to the ebullient approval of his huge fan base, who would still stick with him even if he is no longer president. He would boast and take credit for the stock market surge, the stimulus programs, falling unemployment, and the Covid vaccines (to Trump’s credit, he pioneered unconditional payments, which Biden continued and various states and local governments have adopted or are considering. In Trump’s short and tumultuous single term, he arguably did more for prison reform, ending Middle East wars, and combating poverty than anything Obama did in 8 years). But it also occurred  to me that had Trump just  held tight and refrained from tweeting for those 10 or so days after he was temporarily suspended, until after the inauguration, he would have probably been all-clear to post like he normally does. But he just had to tweet, and worst of all, tweet about the rigged election again instead of just expressing condolences for the Capitol Hill cop who died during the protest (which would have been the safe thing to do), but because he couldn’t just go two weeks without tweeting, and by being so impatient and misjudging the thinness of the ice he was standing on, he had crossed the metaphorical Rubicon as far as Twitter was concerned.

However, Trump is still going on about the election being rigged and is now trying to contest the Arizona results, so it’s possible , also, that he would been allowed to stay on Twitter on the condition that he not question the 2020 results, in which case, I don’t think that is something Trump could ever abide by, as much as he likes to Tweet.

1 comment

  1. I would be interested in hearing your thoughts regarding Twitter banning a sitting president compared to China disappearing a billionaire for 3 months.

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