Citing "the risk of further incitement of violence," Twitter has permanently suspended President Donald Trump's account, @realDonaldTrump.
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.https://t.co/CBpE1I6j8Y
— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) January 8, 2021
The move comes two days after pro-Trump supporters pushed past barricades and forced their way into the US Capitol building to disrupt the counting of Electoral College votes.
Trump has repeatedly disputed the results of the 2020 presidential election, which he lost to Democratic challenger Joe Biden, and asserted that the election was "stolen." Ahead of Wednesday's Congressional session, he told supporters at a rally:
“We will stop the steal. We’re going to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue, and we’re going to the Capitol…We’re going to try and give our Republicans, the weak ones…the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country.”
Protestors went the next step—and a few more—actually entering the Capitol, with some vandalizing the building and taking items from Congresspeople's offices. Five people have been reported dead as a result of the attack, including one protestor from a gunshot wound and a US Capitol police officer.
In the past two days, prominent politicians from both sides of the aisle have publicly mulled impeaching the president or invoking the 25th Amendment to remove him from office.
Twitter doesn't have that power, but as a centralized social media platform popular with the president, it can more or less mute Trump at will.
CEO Jack Dorsey is a strong proponent of Bitcoin, and in December 2019, he started the "Blue Sky initiative" within the company as a way of creating a decentralized standard for social media platforms.
“Blockchain and Bitcoin point to a future, point to a world where content exists forever—where it’s permanent, where it doesn’t go away, where it exists forever on every single node that’s connected to it," he told attendees at the Oslo Freedom Forum last year.
But Donald Trump's account is not forever.
There are two tweets sent today that—though they may not be permanent—Twitter is holding onto as evidence of incitement to violence, according to a blog post explaining the move.
The first was this sent from Trump: “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!!!”
The second: “To all of those who have asked, I will not be going to the Inauguration on January 20th.”
In Twitter's eyes, this all must be taken into context given that further armed protests are reportedly being planned on Twitter and other social media sites for January 17. For example, writes Twitter, "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."
A lesson in immutability. #bitcoin pic.twitter.com/UW8cy9MHZ5
— Erik Voorhees (@ErikVoorhees) January 9, 2021
Facebook and Twitter have come under scrutiny for enabling President Trump to spread misinformation, although Twitter has flagged multiple tweets from the president since the November election in a bid to limit their spread.
For what it's worth, this isn't strictly about centralized versus decentralized platforms, which exist on a continuum rather than as binary positions. Dlive, a decentralized video-streaming platform owned by cryptocurrency platform Tron, has also been criticized for allowing rioters in DC to profit off videos they shared from inside the Capitol. The platform has responded by invoking its terms of services—and suspending or deleting accounts.
Editor's note: This article has been updated with more information.