Twitter’s ban on Trump entirely legal, however not to be overused


@realDonaldTrump on Twitter

Former President Trump’s Twitter account was suspended Jan. 8, two days following the insurrection at the US Capitol. The suspension was in response to multiple tweets by the former president’s account that were accused of inciting violence.

On Jan. 8, Twitter made the decision to permanently suspend former president Donald Trump from its services “due to the risk of further incitement of violence.” In response, Trump said: “Twitter is not about FREE SPEECH. They are all about promoting a Radical Left platform where some of the most vicious people in the world are allowed to speak freely.” His account’s suspension has raised questions about the First Amendment’s inclusion of free speech, and what that means for companies like Twitter. Suspending his account was a justified and legal decision, however, there might be a line to draw when it comes to using this action or making a suspension completely permanent.
Twitter is a private company, and therefore they have no legal requirement to provide a platform for all speech. The legal right to free speech is only binding to the government under the Constitution, so technically Twitter had the ability to suspend Trump’s account, stopping his Twitter presence forever. They made this decision based on repeated violations of Twitter Rules, rules that users agree to in their usage of the platform. These rules can easily be found by a quick google search, and in the introduction of these rules, Twitter states: “Violence, harassment and other similar types of behavior discourage people from expressing themselves, and ultimately diminish the value of global public conversation. Our rules are to ensure all people can participate in the public conversation freely and safely.” Trump had previously tweeted things that had been blocked due to a violation of a rule, such as their rule on violence or on civic integrity. In a tweet on Jan. 8, Twitter stated that “these accounts are not above our rules and cannot use Twitter to incite violence” after continued evaluation of the situation, and continued offenses.
Due to the continued misuse of Twitter services and disobeyment of the rules, the decision to suspend Trump’s account was allowed, and probably the right thing to do. Twitter ruled that he was inciting violence and spreading misinformation about the election, all things that could lead to harm. However, these suspensions should not be completely permanent, and the reevaluation of these accounts and the people’s presence on the platform could be a useful tool in the possible reallowance of their account. In addition, misusing this action, or overusing it, could be harmful to the platform and its encouragement of free and safe conversation. This decision, especially with it being on such a public level, caused lots of speculation due to the connections and contradictions between what Twitter legally can do versus what they really should do, making it nearly impossible to reach an agreement on their decision and allowing the technicalities and ethical aspects to sometimes fall through the cracks.