- People again want President Donald Trump banned from Twitter after a wild Tuesday night tweet about the size of his nuclear button.
- Twitter said no. Trump’s tweets don’t violate its rules.
- Banning him is a dumb idea.
After President Donald Trump managed to, yet again, start an international firestorm with a tweet Tuesday night, a familiar talking point was revived.
“Twitter should ban Trump!” “Doesn’t this violate Twitter’s terms of service?” “Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey is complicit!”
That entire line of thought is ill-conceived.
But first, the tweet.
Amid what was really a days-worth of tweetstorming about everything from the “deep state” to promising a “fake news” awards ceremony on Monday, Trump unloaded a tweet that had many fearing the possible outbreak of nuclear war with North Korea.
Responding to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s New Year’s Day claim that the entire US is within range of their nuclear weapons and that “a nuclear button is always on my desk,” Trump went full Trump.
“North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the ‘Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times,'” Trump tweeted. “Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”
The backlash was instantaneous. Pundits, politicians, and foreign policy wonks were questioning his mental state. And, as is the case with many of Trump’s tweets, Twitter users began flagging it to the company for abuse.
One group, calling itself “Resistance SF,” projected a message on the side of Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters reading “@jack is #complicit,” obviously aimed at Twitter’s CEO.
The group claiming responsibility for the projection, “Resistance SF,” explained the message via its Facebook page:
“@jack breaks the rules of his own company, Twitter,” the group explained on Facebook. “Jack Dorsey must resign or ban @realDonaldTrump.”
Responding to the backlash, Twitter said the provocative tweet does not violate its terms of service, insisting that the tweet did not amount to a “specific threat,” and thus didn’t warrant any disciplinary action. Last month, Twitter introduced a new abuse policy virtually exempts Trump from punishment on the platform.
And that’s exactly how it should be.
“Suspending Trump’s account is a singularly idiotic idea”
The president of the United States – or any other world leader – should not be treated in a similar manner as some neo-Nazi launching harassment campaigns at fellow tweeters. Trump’s tweets, as potentially harmful as they may be, provide a window into his thinking that has proven invaluable in the course of public action that has followed his presidency.
His tweets have been used against him in courts reviewing, in particular, his travel ban. They’re certainly under consideration by special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russia’s role in the 2016 presidential election.
Trump is the president – and no matter your thoughts on him, it’s important to have his tweets as a part of the national discussion.
As liberal New Republic writer Jeet Heer wrote earlier this year:
“Suspending Trump’s account is a singularly idiotic idea.”
“The problem with Trump is not that he tweets out mean things but that he’s president of the United States,” he continued. “Because he’s a powerful figure, there is a manifest public interest in being able to access his thoughts and get a sense of what he considers to be important, which Twitter allows the public to do.”
Additionally, say Twitter bans Trump from its platform. What’s to stop him from putting out the same commentary on Facebook, Instagram, on TV, through the White House press office, or through any of the other means by which the leader of the free world can project his thinking to the masses.
Banning Trump from Twitter doesn’t stop anything other than his ability to convey the message in a tweet.
After CNN’s Brian Stelter brought up the possibility of the tweet violating Twitter’s terms of services, White House social media director Dan Scavino said the following:
“You and all of your liberal friends have NOTHING,” he said. “Keep calling Twitter ???? “
He may just have a point.