As president, Trump maintains the unique option of speaking directly to Americans on television or online from the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room, the Oval Office, the East Room, the Rose Garden, the South Lawn or elsewhere in the White House, where he’ll no longer live in 10 days.
But Trump, who largely dismissed traditional press briefings during his term and who regularly trashes journalists, is eager to hop back on social media, where he claims he can speak directly to supporters.
In a statement, he said Friday that “We have been negotiating with various other sites, and will have a big announcement soon, while we also look at the possibilities of building out our own platform in the near future.”
Critics have long called on social media networks to suspend Trump for racist, false, violent or provocative posts. Now, as he reluctantly readies for the transfer of power to a Joe Biden-Kamala Harris administration in less than two weeks, the self-described “law and order” president finds himself without his favorite communication tools because Twitter deemed him too dangerous while tech giants clamp down on alternatives where extremism and threats of violence thrive.
Egged on by Trump to “march” and “fight” as lawmakers formalized Biden’s victory last Wednesday, a mob of supporters that included far-right extremists, conspiracy theorists and white supremacists, according to The New York Times and Buzzfeed, sieged the U.S. Capitol and ransacked the halls of Congress in an attack that left five dead.
p class=”article__paragraph article__paragraph–left” id=”TXJZQUC6EVEQHP6SYQ4JEJEO7E”>One of the dead includes Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who was reportedly bludgeoned with a fire extinguisher. The New York Times reported Saturday night that Trump has not ordered flags to fly at half-staff on federal buildings under his control.
“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,” Twitter said Friday.
Trump claimed the move infringed on “free speech.” The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects Americans from government laws “abridging the freedom of speech”; it does not guarantee Americans the right to post whatever they want on a platform owned by a private company.
“Twitter employees have coordinated with the Democrats and the Radical Left in removing my account from their platform, to silence me — and YOU, the 75,000,000 great patriots who voted for me,” Trump wrote on the taxpayer-backed government @POTUS account, in a tweet that the platform quickly deleted.
Parler, where some conservatives and far-right backers of the president have taken refuge either in protest of big tech or after Twitter suspensions, isn’t immediately a short-term option for the president.
Google and Apple announced that after an increase in threats and violent posts on Parler, it would no longer offer the platform on its app stores.
“Parler has not taken adequate measures to address the proliferation of these threats to people’s safety,” Apple told CNN.
Google said apps with user-generated content must have moderation polices “and enforcement that removes egregious content like posts that incite violence.”
“All developers agree to these terms and we have reminded Parler of this clear policy in recent months,” the tech giant said in a statement. “We’re aware of continued posting in the Parler app that seeks to incite ongoing violence in the U.S.”
John Matze, Parler’s CEO, claimed to The New York Times that “Big tech really wants to kill competition.”
“I have a lot of work to do in the next 24 hours to make sure everyone’s data is not permanently deleted off the internet,” he said.
Amazon has effectively forced Parler to temporarily shut down, as it pulled the app from its web hosting service, Amazon Web Services, according to Buzzfeed.
“Recently, we’ve seen a steady increase in this violent content on your website, all of which violates our terms,” Amazon emailed Parler Saturday night. “It’s clear that Parler does not have an effective process to comply with the AWS terms of service.”
Parler users helped fan flames and coordinate the attack on the U.S. Capitol, according to Buzzfeed. Some Trump supporters taking part in the siege reportedly called for the execution of Vice President Mike Pence, whom the Secret Service brought to a secure location after Congress was forced to halt debate over the Electoral College vote.
Shortly before the attack, Pence told lawmakers he would defy the president and follow his constitutional duty by simply announcing the final electoral vote count during Wednesday’s joint session of Congress. Trump, in a deleted tweet Wednesday, essentially branded Pence a coward for not unilaterally throwing out some of Biden’s electoral votes — a power the framers of the Constitution did not afford the vice president.
Biden won 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232. Biden will be inaugurated on Jan. 20, amid warnings from Twitter and other tech companies that several users have discussed plans for more violence.
Trump, after heavy prodding from top aides, released a Twitter video denouncing violence at the Capitol and claiming he would focus on a peaceful transfer of power to a new administration. But he did not mention Biden by name.
On the day of the attack, he told the insurrectionists to “go home peacefully” but said “We love you. You’re very special.”
In addition to a Twitter purge of QAnon conspiracy theorists and supporters of the Capitol attack, the Associated Press reported Sunday that Shopify removed Trump-linked online stores. Reddit has also removed a popular Trump subgroup.
Gab, another network popular among the far-right, was removed from Google and Apple app stores in 2017, AP reported.