Sophie Corbett is a journalism sophomore and Mustang News opinion columnist. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of Mustang News.
As I watched the Jan 6. events at the Capitol unfold on the news, I was horrified at our country. To see President Trump’s supporters storm and take over the Capitol is something that a few years ago, would only have seemed likely in a far-fetched dystopian young adult movie. But honestly, after the past four years of his administration, I’m not surprised. Trump has repeatedly used his Twitter account to spread baseless election fraud claims to his supporters and encouraged them to protest at the Capitol on Jan. 6 — the day Congress was to officially confirm the 2020 presidential election results.
This is nothing new. In the four years that Trump has been in office, he has continuously used social media platforms to spread misinformation and lies. But it was this deadly Capitol riot that was the final straw.
“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 in a statement.
While Twitter is clearly the president’s favorite way to communicate with his supporters, many other social media platforms quickly followed suit.
The ban is absolutely justified.
Many of Trump’s hardcore supporters will believe almost anything that comes out of his mouth or that he tweets, and that is incredibly dangerous. He has (or had) nearly 90 million followers on Twitter, and his words hold massive influence. Allowing someone to continue to have access to this platform after using it to incite insurrection would be an incredible threat to this country.
Contrary to popular belief, banning Trump on social media platforms is not a violation of his First Amendment right to free speech. The amount of posts circulating around social media claiming as such are completely misinformed. This is an extremely common misconception, so let’s make one thing very clear: Your constitutional rights can only be violated by the government. Private companies, like Twitter, are legally allowed to censor and ban anyone who violates its rules and terms of service. Just like no one is above the law, no one is above Twitter’s terms of service, not even the president of the United States.
Ultimately, Twitter absolutely has an ethical responsibility to act when the president uses the platform to incite an insurrection. The bottom line is that Trump’s actions on social media are a threat to democracy. Twitter has enabled Trump to spread lies for years, and thankfully the line in the sand has finally been drawn.