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Twitter permanently bans Trump, citing risk of violent incitement

Posted at 4:31 PM, Jan 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-08 19:06:27-05

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has been permanently banned by Twitter after a review by the social media platform feared the risk of further incitement of violence.

Trump's account was suspended for 12 hours after Twitter felt the president's posts following the deadly insurrection by his supporters at the US Capitol insurrection called for more violence. The ban was lifted Thursday, enabling Trump to post a video in which he conceded the election to Joe Biden and said he wanted the nation to heal its deep divide.

Twitter's move deprives Trump, who had amassed over 89 million followers, of a potent tool he has used to communicate directly with the American people for more than a decade. He has used Twitter to announce policy change, challenge opponents, insult enemies, praise his allies (and himself), and to spread misinformation.

Twitter has long given Trump and other world leaders broad exemptions from its rules against personal attacks, hate speech and other behaviors. But in a lengthy explanation posted on its blog Friday, the company said recent Trump tweets amounted to glorification of violence when read in the context of the Capitol riot and plans circulating online for future armed protests around the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.

In those tweets, Trump stated that he will not be attending the inauguration and referred to his supporters as "American Patriots," saying they will have "a GIANT VOICE long into the future." Twitter said these statements "are likely to inspire others to replicate the violent acts that took place on January 6, 2021, and that there are multiple indicators that they are being received and understood as encouragement to do so."

The company said "plans for future armed protests have already begun proliferating on and off-Twitter, including a proposed secondary attack on the US Capitol and state capitol buildings on January 17, 2021."

Twitter said its policy enables world leaders to speak to the public, but that these accounts "are not above our rules entirely" and can't use Twitter to incite violence.

On its website, Twitter further explained the ban.

"In the context of horrific events this week, we made it clear on Wednesday that additional violations of the Twitter Rules would potentially result in this very course of action. Our public interest framework exists to enable the public to hear from elected officials and world leaders directly. It is built on a principle that the people have a right to hold power to account in the open."

Earlier Friday, Twitter permanently banned Trump allies Sidney Powell and Michael Flynn as part of a QAnon-related account purge.

The Associated Press contributed to this story