Washington: Twitter has announced that it had permanently suspended the account of outgoing President Donald Trump due to "risk of further incitement of violence", three days after his supporters stormed the US Capitol and five people died in the violence.
The unprecedented move by the California-based social media platform comes after Trump tweeted that he would not attend the inauguration of his successor Joe Biden on January 20.
"After close review of recent Tweets from the @realDonaldTrump account and the context around them — specifically how they are being received and interpreted on and off Twitter — we have permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence," Twitter said in a statement on Friday.
Meanwhile, Internet giant Google has suspended US-based microblogging platform Parler -- where most of the supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump are shifting their base -- from its app store, citing posts inciting violence and demanding "robust" moderation for "egregious" content from the social networking service.
Simultaneously, Apple also warned Parler on Friday that it will ban the service from its app store if it doesn't start to moderate its content better.
At the time of permanent suspension from Twitter, Trump had 88.7 million followers and followed 51 people.
"In the context of horrific events this week, we made it clear on Wednesday that additional violations of the Twitter Rules would potentially result in this very course of action," it said. "Our public interest framework exists to enable the public to hear from elected officials and world leaders directly. It is built on a principle that the people have a right to hold power to account in the open."
"However, we made it clear going back years that these accounts are not above our rules entirely and cannot use Twitter to incite violence, among other things. We will continue to be transparent around our policies and their enforcement,” it said.
Outgoing US President Donald Trump has slammed Twitter for permanently suspending him, vowing that he and his support base would not be silenced.
Thousands of Trump's supporters had stormed the Capitol building on Wednesday in an unprecedented assault and clashed with police, resulting in five deaths and interrupting a constitutional process by Congress to affirm the victory of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris in the November 3 election.
Immediately after the incident, Twitter had temporarily suspended the account of Trump for 12 hours. Facebook has already suspended his account on Facebook and Instagram till inauguration. Early this week, You Tube removed a number of his videos from the rally he addressed to his supporters.
On Friday, Trump posted two tweets.
"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!!!"
Shortly thereafter, the president tweeted: "To all of those who have asked, I will not be going to the Inauguration on January 20th."
In its statement, Twitter said these two tweets must be read in the context of broader events in the country and the ways in which Trump's statements could be mobilised by different audiences to incite violence, as well as in the context of the pattern of behaviour from this account in recent weeks.
Twitter said that its determination is based on a number of factors, including Trump's statement that he would not be attending the inauguration is being received by a number of his supporters as further confirmation that the election was not legitimate.
The tweet may also serve as encouragement to those potentially considering violent acts that the inauguration would be a "safe" target as he will not be attending.
The use of the words "American Patriots" to describe some of his supporters is also being interpreted as support for those committing violent acts at the US Capitol," it said.
According to the company, the tweet is being interpreted as further indication that Trump does not plan to facilitate an "orderly transition" and instead that he plans to continue to support, empower, and shield those who believe he won the election.
Plans for future armed protests have already begun proliferating on and off-Twitter, including a proposed secondary attack on the US Capitol and state capitol buildings on January 17, it said.
"As such, 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 said.
Google, Apple Move on Parler
The move on Parler by the two Silicon Valley companies came the day when Twitter permanently suspended Trump's account due to "risk of further incitement of violence".
"In order to protect user safety on Google Play, our longstanding policies require that apps displaying user-generated content have moderation policies and enforcement that removes egregious content like spots that incite violence. All developers agree to these terms and we have reminded Parler of this clear policy in recent months,” Google said in a statement.
"We recognise that there can be reasonable debate about content policies and that it can be difficult for apps to immediately remove all violative content, but for us to distribute an app through Google Play, we do require that apps implement robust moderation for egregious content," it said.
"In light of this ongoing and urgent public safety threat, we are suspending the app from the Play Store until it addresses these issues," said Google, whose software powers Android phones.
Parler has a significant user base of Trump supporters and conservatives.
Apple in a statement said it has received numerous complaints regarding objectionable content in Parler service, accusations that the app was used to plan, coordinate and facilitate the illegal activities in Washington DC on January 6 that led (among other things) to loss of life, numerous injuries and the destruction of property.
“The app also appears to continue to be used to plan and facilitate yet further illegal and dangerous activities," the company said.
Parler’s CEO John Matze in a post challenged Apple's position.
"Apparently they believe Parler is responsible for ALL user generated content on Parler. By the same logic, Apple must be responsible for ALL actions taken by their phones. Every car bomb, every illegal cell phone conversation, every illegal crime committed on an iPhone, Apple must also be responsible for," he said.
“We will not cave to pressure from anti-competitive actors! We will and always have enforced our rules against violence and illegal activity. But we WONT cave to politically motivated companies and those authoritarians who hate free speech!” he said
Won’t be Silenced: Trump
In a statement hours after he was banned, Trump said: "I predicted this would happen. We have been negotiating with various other sites, and will have a big announcement soon, while we also look at the possibilities of building out our own platform in the near future. We will not be SILENCED!
"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. "STAY TUNED!"' he said, indicating some announcements in this regard is forthcoming.
"As I have been saying for a long time, Twitter has gone further and further in banning free speech, and tonight, Twitter employees have coordinated with the Democrats and the Radical Left in removing my account from their platform, to silence me — and YOU, the 75,000,000 great patriots who voted for me," he added.
"Twitter may be a private company, but without the government's gift of Section 230 they would not exist for long," Trump said.