Twitter did not rule out the possibility of banning President-elect Donald Trump from the social media platform if his online conduct becomes too unruly.
“The Twitter Rules prohibit violent threats, harassment, hateful conduct, and multiple account abuse, and we will take action on accounts violating those policies,” a company spokesperson told Slate when asked if the company would potentially ban a government official or Trump himself.
“The Twitter Rules apply to all accounts, including verified accounts,” the spokesperson replied after being asked to elaborate even further.
In recent months, Twitter has been taking a hard stance on censorship, which is quite contradictory to how the company traditionally identifies itself. (RELATED: Silicon Valley Seems To Love Burying Conservative News)
“Generally, we remain neutral as to the content because our general council and CEO like to say that we are the free speech wing of the free speech party,” Tony Wang, general manager of Twitter in the U.K., said in 2012 while describing the social media company.
“We’re the free speech wing of the free speech party” Twitter 2012
“We’re the free surveillance wing…” Twitter 2016https://t.co/IssPo6Nkg3
— Nate Cardozo (@ncardozo) November 16, 2016
The tech company purged a number of popular alt-right social media profiles this past month, including Richard Spencer, president and director of the National Policy Institute, which is an alt-right think tank embracing white nationalism. The National Policy Institute held a conference roughly a week ago where supporters were seen giving the Nazi salute.
“This is corporate Stalinism,” Spencer told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Twitter is trying to airbrush the Alt Right out of existence. They’re clearly afraid. They will fail!”
so twitter just banned Richard Spencer. they also banned Paul Town, Ricky Vaughn, Pax Dickinson and John Rivers today.
— TrumpenReich Tree (@ReactionaryTree) November 15, 2016
Free speech advocates argue that Twitter shouldn’t be censoring users who post ignorant comments because idea-expression is protected by the First Amendment and is a core American value. But as a private business, Twitter is legally in the clear.
Others assert that Twitter should remove what they consider “trolls” because it allows for hate to grow and fester.
Twitter’s eagerness to censor may have ironically manifested itself after the company’s CEO Jack Dorsey had his account suspended in an apparent self-inflicted wound.
“At its best, the nature of our platform empowers people to reach across divides and build connections to share ideas and to challenge accepted norms. As part of that, we hope — and we also recognize that it’s a high hope — to elevate civil discourse,” Dorsey said, according to CNBC.
“Abuse is not part of civil discourse. It shuts down conversation and prevents us from understanding each other. Freedom of expression means little if we allow voices to be silenced because of fear of harassment if they speak up. No one deserves to be the target of abuse online and it has no place on Twitter,” Dorsey continued.
As Trump fires off tweets in his usual brazen manner, Twitter will be forced to decipher what it constitutes as abuse and whether it will censor the incoming president.
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