Donald Trump is likely to go down in history not only as the first US president to be impeached twice, but also as the first (and so far only) to be banned by social media. If criminal proceedings follow in connection with his supporters’ attack on the Capitol Building last week, then he might add “convicted” to his sobriquets of “ousted” and “banned” president.
To be honest, I was not surprised by Twitter’s decision to suspend Trump’s account permanently after several issues with him over the past four years. It is an unprecedented ban against the president of the most powerful country in the world.
Many considered the ban to be better late than never, and was met with great satisfaction by what seems to be a majority of Twitter users. It has already had an impact in the US. Trump used his Twitter account as the satellite channel that he always wished he had. He wrote more than 100 tweets on some days, covering various topics; Twitter was a safe haven whereby he could reveal his true self and strange views to the world.
America had never witnessed such political and media events until Trump entered the White House in 2017. The man fought with everyone in every direction. Egyptians would say that, “He fights the flies resting on his face.”
Trump lost many friends and allies without caring for the loss. He even fired office bearers and senior officials in his administration and issued policy changes via Twitter. He also attacked US institutions, criticising CIA intelligence reports and the FBI on social media.House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was concerned enough last week to ask senior army officers if the president should have the nuclear codes. Up until now, however, Trump has used his Twitter account to send written missiles carrying warheads full of accusations here and violations there, without any sense of accountability or responsibility. His peers, it seems, have run out of patience with the man.
The founder and CEO of Twitter put an end to the thousands of absurd tweets that Trump has burdened us with over the past four years. Warnings from the platform were ignored, and the outgoing president continued to tweet his false claims about election fraud. Twitter placed an alert on all of his tweets in this regard, indicating that they contained false allegations. It was another way of saying, “Beware, the president is lying.”
Twitter is accustomed to sending such alerts, most commonly when a tweet contains clear incitement to violence and hatred. That was apparently the main reason for Trump’s ban, given the content of the disastrous speech that preceded the storming of the Capitol Building.
Throughout his presidency, Trump has attacked any and all critical media, describing them as purveyors of “fake news”. He has humiliated journalists inside the White House and called some of them “insolent”, while being racist towards others. He is now paying the price for this, with social media — Facebook and Instagram have followed Twitter’s lead — banning him. Although some of his accounts are only suspended until Joe Biden takes office, I believe that permanent bans will follow soon.
This article first appeared in Arabic on Arabi21 on 9 January 2021.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.