Twitter Could Totally Ban Trump But That Won’t Happen

Twitter Could Totally Ban Trump But That Won’t Happen

If there was ever a week that makes the case for and against Twitter, this one was it. Let’s recap: On Tuesday, President Trump told reporters, in no uncertain terms, that he would take swift action against North Korea, and that any threats involving the country’s considerable nuclear capabilities would be “met with fire and fury.” In regards to Kim Jong-un, Trump said, “He has been very threatening beyond a normal statement, and as I said, they will be met with fire and fury, and frankly power the likes of which this world has never seen before.” North Korea, in turn, lobbed a threat to attack the U.S. territory of Guam. In fact, by Twitter’s own definition, Trump’s tweets about North Korea might qualify as behavior that incites or promotes violence (albeit not targeted at another Twitter user). All this means Twitter could ban Trump. In allowing Trump unfettered access to its platform, however, Twitter amplifies an account whose content qualifies as abusive behavior under its own rules and, with this week’s activity, could put the U.S. in danger. It was only after a campaign led by Jones that the company took action, making Milo one of the most prominent figures the service has banned yet (it also suspended other alt-right accounts late last year). The company’s been around for just over 11 years, and Trump is only the second president to use its service while in office. Chances are, Twitter hasn’t fully thought through what it means for the most powerful person in the country to use its platform, let alone what to do when that person uses Twitter to issue policy announcements and threats to world leaders. But Trump isn’t just somebody else. And he’s certainly not just any Twitter user either.

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If there was ever a week that makes the case for and against Twitter, this one was it.

Let’s recap: On Tuesday, President Trump told reporters, in no uncertain terms, that he would take swift action against North Korea, and that any threats involving the country’s considerable nuclear capabilities would be “met with fire and fury.”

In regards to Kim Jong-un, Trump said, “He has been very threatening beyond a normal statement, and as I said, they will be met with fire and fury, and frankly power the likes of which this world has never seen before.”

North Korea, in turn, lobbed a threat to attack the U.S. territory of Guam. “Let’s see what he does with Guam,” Trump countered on Thursday.

This is a topic that Trump, as he is wont to do, has previously discussed on his mouthpiece of choice, Twitter—much to the chagrin of North Korea’s leadership. So it follows that this morning, Trump issued yet another threat via Twitter:

Military solutions are now fully in place,locked and loaded,should North Korea act unwisely. Hopefully Kim Jong Un will find another path!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 11, 2017

I don’t need to explain just how irresponsible it is for Trump to escalate this posturing, and to do so on a public platform like Twitter. As others have written, there’s a case to be made for booting Trump from Twitter, and today’s tweet only cements it.

In fact, by Twitter’s own definition, Trump’s tweets about North Korea might qualify as behavior that incites or promotes violence (albeit not targeted at another Twitter user). From the Twitter Rules:

We believe in freedom of expression and in speaking truth to power, but that means little as an underlying philosophy if voices are silenced because people are afraid to speak up. In order to ensure that people feel safe expressing diverse opinions and beliefs, we do not tolerate behavior that crosses the line into abuse, including behavior that harasses, intimidates, or uses fear to silence another user’s voice.

Any accounts and related accounts engaging in the activities specified below may be temporarily locked and/or subject to permanent suspension.

  • Violent threats (direct or indirect): You may not make threats of violence or promote violence, including threatening or promoting terrorism.

In the past, the targets of Trump’s innumerable Twitter rants have sometimes been private citizens, like union leader Chuck Jones or Lauren Batchelder,

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