Trump has always had a soft spot for using Twitter, same goes for Twitter who has tolerated his antics for years; this may all come to an end now that he is soon to be losing the status of a world leader.
Considered as his favorite weapon, Trump’s tweets are worthy of slideshows and whole articles by itself as they’ve also inspired multiple “memes” and memorable “kovfefe” sort of catchphrases. Some are so wrongfully outrageous that it could even be called poetry at its worst!
Twitter never once banned Trump or even suspended him since there was always an exemption to its rules for “world leaders, candidates, and public officials. “It would take something really deplorable for a ban, and I highly doubt even Trump is that stupid,” an anonymous Twitter employee told The Verge in 2017.
All that changed this year, as Twitter started moderating him for misinformation in general. It all started when Trump began spreading disinformation about the coronavirus, the media giant responded by slapping warning label on his tweets.
This all continued when Trump began spreading lies about mail-in voting and election fraud; Twitter appended these tweets and shared links to the real facts.
Now that America has made it loud and clear to who they want as their next president, Trump faces the reality of having those privileges ripped away from him.
Banning Trump after he leaves office would be seen as a political act, which would drive most of Trump and his supporters to other parts of the internet where his speech lives on uncheck by mainstream media.
The decision to not do so would also reflect badly upon the company’s image as the spreading of dangerous misinformation would mean everything we see today, but perhaps worse in the future.
Will Twitter do it?
In similar cases, Twitter has been extremely reluctant and vague at the same time about banning celebrities from their platform. It’s hard to implement bans when they will be giving the benefit of the right’s narrative of being banned by tech companies.
When Twitter was pondering around the banning of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said that they had to hold Jones to the same standard as to every other account and also resist “taking one-off actions to make us feel good in the short term, and adding fuel to new conspiracy theories.” Jones was eventually banned for abusive behavior and relevant details weren’t provided.
Some of Trump’s allies such as Mike Cernovich believes that Twitter will do it.
“Of course he will be,” he said, adding that he imagined the company would be counting down the days.
“I think it’s quite possible,” James Grimmelmann, a professor at Cornell Law School who has studied moderation, told the Atlantic. “Twitter has all along said that the policy that has kept Trump on Twitter is an exception for leaders and political figures.”
But then Grimmelmann walked it back, saying the platform might just continue labelling false claims with warnings, or start removing individual tweets
Some argued that Trump is too big of a presence to keep off social media and you can never really deplatform a former president. No person as famous or influential as Trump has ever been banned; but the platform has had four years to see what could and will continue to happen if Trump isn’t banned.
He has more than 60 million followers in which 1.5 million more came since Election Day. This audience won’t be banned along with Trump 20 of his high-profile supporters were the 20% for retweets of election misinformation.
Kate Starbird, a researcher at the University of Washington who has studied the spread of disinformation, told the Atlantic that she didn’t think Twitter would deactivate Trump’s account.
“Donald Trump has an effect on the ecosystem of Twitter that is massive,” she said.
Phrases start trending on Twitter because of the sheer amount of user tweeting about it. Some phrases start trending merely because Trump tweeted it.
“He has a hugely outsized impact on the discourse,” she said. For as long as Trump keeps his account on Twitter, reality will be skewed. The longer he stays there, the harder it will be to see.