facebook linkedin twitter

EXPLAINER: Can Social Media Companies Boot Trump? Yes

January 11, 2021by Kevin Freking, Associated Press
President Donald Trump looks at his phone during a roundtable with governors on the reopening of America's small businesses, in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Social media companies decided this past week they had finally seen enough from President Donald Trump.

Facebook and Instagram suspended Trump at least until Inauguration Day. Twitch and Snapchat also disabled Trump’s accounts. To top it all off, Twitter ended a nearly 12-year run and shuttered his account, severing an instant line of communication to his 89 million followers.

Conservatives are crying foul.

“Free Speech Is Under Attack! Censorship is happening like NEVER before! Don’t let them silence us. Sign up at http://DONJR.COM to stay connected!” his eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., tweeted Friday.

CAN TWITTER AND FACEBOOK LEGALLY TAKE SUCH ACTION?

The short answer is yes.

As the Congressional Research Service has explained in a report for federal lawmakers and their staffs, lawsuits predicated on a website’s decision to remove content largely fail. That’s because the free speech protections set out in the First Amendment generally apply only to when a person is harmed by an action of the government.

“The First Amendment doesn’t apply to private sector organizations. That’s not how this works,” said Chris Krebs, when asked Sunday whether censorship by social media companies violated freedom of speech protections.

Krebs oversaw election cybersecurity efforts at the Department of Homeland Security until Trump fired him when he disputed election fraud claims. Speaking on CBS’s “Face the Nation” Sunday, he explained that companies enforce their own standards and policies for users.

That’s what happened at Twitter on Friday.

WHAT RATIONALE DID TWITTER TAKE FOR ITS ACTIONS?

The company said after reviewing Trump’s account in the context of the riot at the Capitol on Wednesday, it was concerned about two tweets he sent Friday that Twitter said could incite violence. They were:

— “The 75,000,000 great American Patriots who voted for me, AMERICA FIRST, and MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN, will have a GIANT VOICE long into the future. They will not be disrespected or treated unfairly in any way, shape or form!!!”

— “To all of those who have asked, I will not be going to the Inauguration on January 20th.”

The first tweet, the company said, was received by some supporters as further confirmation that the Nov. 3 election was not legitimate — but in fact, the notion of widespread voter fraud is a baseless claim. The use of the words “American Patriots” to describe some of his supporters was also interpreted as support for those committing violent acts at the Capitol.

The company said the second tweet could serve as encouragement to those considering violent acts that the inauguration ceremonies on Jan. 20 would be a “safe” target since he would not be attending.

“Our determination is that the two Tweets above 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,” Twitter wrote.

Social Media

August 19, 2021
by Tom Ramstack
Federal Trade Commission Sues Facebook Claiming Unfair Monopoly Tactics

WASHINGTON -- The Federal Trade Commission submitted an amended complaint Thursday against Facebook Inc. in federal court in a case... Read More

WASHINGTON -- The Federal Trade Commission submitted an amended complaint Thursday against Facebook Inc. in federal court in a case that threatens the social media giant’s multibillion dollar annual business operations. The FTC accuses Facebook of antitrust violations that give its competition minimal chance of surviving... Read More

August 12, 2021
by Tom Ramstack
Twitter Loses in Court Ruling on Releasing FBI Search Data

Twitter lost another court battle this week in its effort to publicly release data showing when the FBI tapped into... Read More

Twitter lost another court battle this week in its effort to publicly release data showing when the FBI tapped into customer communications of the social media giant. Twitter, Inc. wants to release the information for the sake of transparency to its customers. The FBI argued successfully... Read More

July 26, 2021
by Dan McCue
Judge Grants FTC More Time to File Amended Complaint Against Facebook

WASHINGTON - A federal judge on Friday gave the U.S. Federal Trade Commission until Aug. 19 to file an amended... Read More

WASHINGTON - A federal judge on Friday gave the U.S. Federal Trade Commission until Aug. 19 to file an amended complaint in its antitrust lawsuit against Facebook. In a filing with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the agency asked for a three-week... Read More

July 12, 2021
by Victoria Turner
Federal, State Laws Should Bolster Social Media Accountability, Carr says

Reforming Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act is not enough to curb the power of social media platforms,... Read More

Reforming Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act is not enough to curb the power of social media platforms, and should be bolstered by federal and state laws to enforce transparency, accountability and anti-discrimination, FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr said.  Despite the “tremendous benefits” the tech... Read More

July 7, 2021
by Dan McCue
Trump Sues Facebook, Twitter and Google

BEDMINSTER, N.J. - Former President Donald Trump filed a class action lawsuit against Facebook, Twitter and Google, and their CEOs... Read More

BEDMINSTER, N.J. - Former President Donald Trump filed a class action lawsuit against Facebook, Twitter and Google, and their CEOs on Wednesday, alleging the companies violated his 1st Amendment rights when they banned him and suspended his accounts. “Our case will prove this censorship is unlawful,... Read More

July 2, 2021
by TWN Staff
Former Trump Advisor to Launch Social Media Platform July 4

WASHINGTON - Former top Trump advisor Jason Miller will launch GETTR, a new social media platform, on July 4, a... Read More

WASHINGTON - Former top Trump advisor Jason Miller will launch GETTR, a new social media platform, on July 4, a launch date chosen to “symbolically declare independence from Big Tech,” according to a release from the company. “There is a clear need for a new social... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top