According to a recent report from Forbes, a Twitter spokesperson raised the possibility of banning President Trump from the site after Inauguration Day – assuming that Joe Biden becomes president. Over the last few months, the president has been at war with the social media giant. He has frequently attacked the site for its increased effort in combatting allegations and claims made by the president surrounding the presidential election currently in court.
Although social media sites typically take a harsher stance against political misinformation and potential trolls around election time, onlookers can hardly ignore the increased frequency of fact-checking taking place on the site involving topics other than the contested election. Twitter has taken a harsher stance against what it deems misinformation and shows no signs of slowing down.
The Two-Tier Social Media Platform
Twitter would be making a grave mistake banning the president after leaving office. First, this sets a precedent that politicians are given protection for merely being on the site. All users should be held to the same standard, but Twitter is already demonstrating that being an influential figure grants certain individuals protections that other users do not have. President Trump currently has more than 88 million followers on his personal account and an additional 33 million on the official POTUS account.
Despite his controversial existence on the site, the president brings in immense traffic from both fans and enemies. It would undoubtedly be a mistake to lose out on the interactions so many have with the president’s account – and with each other – but potential problems go beyond that. Twitter would strengthen the case for stripping away the immunities social media companies currently enjoy under the law.
If the president’s account were banned for tweets containing what Twitter considers baseless misinformation, millions of Americans would have a serious grievance with the company. Republicans have already gone to bat for the president over Twitter’s censorship leading up to the election, and banning Trump from the site would be a significant blow to the company’s credibility. Most people already recognize that Twitter is more intent on silencing the president than protecting the site’s integrity, which may even be the ultimate goal of many of the social media giant’s employees.
From a purely business standpoint, Twitter would be making a foolish decision to ban President Trump after a possible Biden inauguration. It could potentially lose millions of users almost overnight. The floodgates of outrage would be unleashed. Many moderates would likely take the side of conservatives attacking the platform for blatant censorship.
Still, politically-motivated de-platforming on a scale perhaps once considered unthinkable has already taken place on platforms like Facebook and YouTube. It has become clear that nobody is safe from Big Tech’s reach, least of all populist conservatives who make up the ideological minority on those sites today.
Read more from Jose Backer.