Chain deletions. Shortly after pro-Trump activists invaded the Capitol on Wednesday, January 6, the most influential social networks began to suspend or delete Donald Trump’s accounts. As the end of the Republican billionaire’s mandate approaches, franceinfo looks back in six acts on the days when the 45th President of the United States lost his favorite communication channels.
Act 1: Donald Trump’s accounts are temporarily suspended on January 6
Often criticized for their laxity, social networks react to the invasion of the Capitol. Instagram and its parent company, Facebook, announced on the evening of January 6 the temporary suspension of Donald Trump’s accounts. The latter then had 35.3 million subscribers on Facebook and 24.6 million on Instagram.
At the same time, Twitter is removing tweets from the president for the first time and blocking his account for twelve hours. Donald Trump’s personal account has over 88 million subscribers.
Act 2: Facebook and Instagram extend the suspension “for an indefinite period”
Facebook group boss Mark Zuckerberg announced on Jan. 7 that the sanction is extended at least until the Jan. 20 transition, when Democrat Joe Biden officially takes office in the White House. “We believe that allowing the president to continue to use our services during this period poses too great a risk”, he explains.
For its part, Snapchat, a social network particularly appreciated by young people for its ephemeral content, and where Donald Trump has 2 million subscribers, blocks the profile of the outgoing president on January 7. The same day, Twitch, owned by Amazon, a popular platform for “gamers” to broadcast their games live, announces making the same decision. Like Facebook, she plans to reassess her position after the Jan.20 transition. Donald Trump has some 150,000 subscribers there.
Act 3: Donald Trump uses the US Presidency’s account to reply to Twitter
Donald Trump strikes back on January 8 on Twitter. On his favorite social network, he first announces that he will not attend the nomination of Joe Biden on January 20.
The same day, he seized the official account of the American presidency (33.4 million subscribers), which he had so far used very little, to address his supporters. He writes to his “millions of patriots” : “We will not be SILENT!” and “Twitter has nothing to do with FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION”.
After a series of threatening messages against the platform, he also says he plans to create his own social network.
Act 4: Twitter suspends Donald Trump’s account
Twitter responds to these direct attacks on January 8. “After careful consideration of recent tweets from @realDonaldTrump and the current context – including how they are interpreted (…) – we suspended the account indefinitely due to the risk of further incitement to violence “ from the outgoing president, announces the company in a statement (English content).
The blue bird social network does not stop there and suspends several of Donald Trump’s tweets on the account of the American presidency. He is also suspending Donald Trump’s campaign account @TeamTrump after posting a tweet with a “President Trump’s comment” accusing Twitter of“prohibit freedom of expression” and to agree with “the democrats and the radical left” to silence him. “Using another account to avoid suspension is against our rules”, then commented a Twitter spokesperson.
Act 5: Apple, Android and Amazon kick out the Parler network
Deprived of the most famous networks, many pro-Trump activists decide to fall back on the ultra-conservative Parler network. Launched in 2018, it works a bit like Twitter, with profiles to follow and “parlys” instead of tweets.
January 8, Google is removing the network from its application download platform. The group justifies this decision by invoking the presence of messages “inciting violence” and an overly lax moderation policy..
Apple also withdraws Parler from its application download platform on January 9, when it leads downloads in the United States. Amazon does the same on January 10.
In addition, on January 11, the number two of Facebook suggests that the suspension of Donald Trump’s account could last for some time. “Our ban is indefinite. We said it would last at least until the presidential transition, but we do not intend to lift it.”Sheryl Sandberg said in an online forum hosted by Reuters.
Act 6: YouTube suspends Donald Trump’s channel
The platform, owned by Google, suspends for “at least seven days” the president’s channel and deleted one of the videos uploaded. “In light of concerns about the current risk of violence, we have removed new content posted on Donald J. Trump’s channel for violating our policies.”, wrote the site in a statement.