Trump has been permanently suspended from Twitter, and seemingly banned from various other social media sites, in the wake of his efforts to incite violence in Washington DC. Obviously, that hasn’t simmered down tensions on the dear bird app as we now have an already raging debate reaching new heights – that is, the power of Big Tech and the right to freedom of speech in relation to causing harm. I’ll let that little discussion run its course, because here I just want to point out the obvious contradiction from the pro-Trump camp.
Twitter, in 2015, did make a commitment to freedom of speech. In relation to Trump specifically when he was elected President of the United States, they made a decision to keep his account active because it was a primary platform for the leader. Donald Trump’s tweets (archived elsewhere but now deleted from Twitter itself) were regarded as official communications, so Twitter had reasonable justification for maintaining his presence on their site.
However, after the President instigated what was essentially a badly thought out and impromptu attempt at a coup in the Capitol, that seemed to be the tipping point. The storming of Congress, looting, a few deaths, ransacking of offices, photos taken of officials’ devices left behind – these people had a red carpet spread out by the amicable police and security and were mostly allowed to just leave. One woman died who half the Trump fans believe was unjustly murdered (where have we heard that before…) and the other half believing it was staged by antifa. Another woman with a “do not tread on me flag” was literally trampled to death.
More tragic irony.
There are now investigations taking place to find those involved in the riot, a search made easier by the fact these people are also anti-mask. With COVID-19 obviously being a hoax and masks being something BLM criminals wear, why would these white, self-righteous mobs think to secure their identities?
This was all because, over the last six years, Donald Trump has been igniting divisions and hatred with his slew of outright lies and vicious rhetoric. A mass of people from across the country, during a pandemic, rallied to their President as he told them the election had been stolen from him – from them – and that they would march to the Capitol to… do something to stop a symbolic certification of the completed vote, I guess?
Trump himself apparently wanted to join them but had been advised not to.
After all of this took place, even with under two weeks of his term to go, Twitter decided now was the time to shut down his account. This raises many talking points, not lest being free speech and censorship, the power of Big Tech and the precedents they can set, the role social media itself played in allowing this to take place, and much more. The power of Big Tech is the current favourite of Trump’s base, which they believe to be run by the Democratic Party and owned by the Chinese government.
This “left-wing”, “communist” takedown of “conservative” voices is proof to them that their rights are being torn away and that evil is winning some grand battle across the globe. Not that Trump isn’t still the President and could call a press meeting whenever he wants to get a global audience instantly, but let’s stick to the bird app.
Regardless of your view on Trump’s ban, there are some points and contradictions that need emphasising or myth busting. Firstly, the idea that it is only “conservative” voices being silenced on Twitter is laughable. “Leftist” circles of Twitter constantly face account limitations, suspensions, shadow bans or regular bans. I don’t know any specific high-profile cases, but many smaller individuals and groups have had accounts or followers purged. Part of this may well be bots being removed, on both sides, but the notion that it’s just “right-wing” views under attack (an accusation usually posted by “right-wing” figures on Twitter) is absurd.
Second, Trump supporters and rich grifters profiting off of the chaos have a wild case of doublethink. Their whole platform is dedicated to smaller government, or even the abolition of government, so that individuals and businesses can do business without all the limitations and regulations on their freedoms. To them, whether it’s a genuine but misguided belief in the “free market”, all the way to the “anarcho-capitalists” who desire corporate tyranny, the less restrictions on people and business there are, the better things would ostensibly be.
So Twitter, a private company with a Terms of Service, removes people from their platform that break those Terms of Service. Including, now, after years of making an exception, the President of the United States. Isn’t that the goal? Shouldn’t a corporation having the power to literally shut down one of the most powerful government voices in the world be worthy of celebration? A business is just carrying out its business.
But no. Instead we get incessant and predictable shrieks about free speech. We get conspiracies about the Democrats pulling the strings and of China buying all the power. This couldn’t possibly be a private company carrying out its private business – it must be some massive State conspiracy, right? There’s no other explanation!
There is no truth to any of that, of course, but it’s what they believe. They can promote all the “libertarian” and “free market” ideology they desire, but the minute the power this places in the hands of corporations seemingly turns against them, it’s straight to bowing to a wannabe fascist to crush their enemies. The government suddenly becomes a sacred institution, designed specifically to defend them, even against the corporate behemoths they created and facilitated. A government led by a supreme leader, a cult of personality.
They cannot see this contradiction. They go through some extreme mental gymnastics to try and prove what they believe, to make it all work. That was the beauty of the whole QAnon conspiracy – no matter what facts or “facts” got introduced, it could flawlessly be explained or debunked and fit neatly into the web of false reality they perceived. So too with this, even as Q itself appears to be being questioned now
Twitter is therefore an enemy, described both as a corporation, but to explain its actions, as an agent of the dark side of government as well. Google and Apple are facing similar accusations too, as they remove Parler – an alternative to Twitter populated mostly by conspiracy theorists and loyal Trump supporters – from the Play Store and App Store. I haven’t looked into the reasoning behind that, but I can only assume it’s the same as Twitter’s for removing Trump – it’s pure insanity and conspiracy that these companies do not want on their – private – platforms.
This isn’t some communist tyranny, an all powerful 1984 government. It’s the corporate, private power heralded by the rise of unshackled capitalism.
But they don’t want to talk about that.
Previous piece: Some Notes on the American Coup Attempt
Liked this? Read Governments Can’t Self-Regulate Surveillance
One thought on “The Irony of Trump’s Twitter Ban”