After inflammatory tweets, Twitter permanently suspends Donald Trump

Twitter thought they could wait out Trump's term in office. After putting the President on a 12-hour time-out earlier this week, the company has banned the President's account permanently.

Updated 8-Jan, 6:40PM EST: Twitter has now permanently suspended Trump's account.

The @TwitterSafety account issued the news in a tweet: "After close review of recent Tweets from the @realDonaldTrump account and the context around them we have permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence."

Additional details are in a blog post, "Permanent suspension of @realDonaldTrump". That post analyzed two tweets from Trump today, in which the President praised the "American Patriots" who voted for him and announced that he would not be attending his successor's inauguration:

President Trump's statement that he will not be attending the Inauguration is being received by a number of his supporters as further confirmation that the election was not legitimate and is seen as him disavowing his previous claim made via two Tweets by his Deputy Chief of Staff, Dan Scavino, that there would be an "orderly transition" on January 20th.

The second 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.

The company also noted, ominously, that it had determined 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. "

The move comes after a purge of accounts, some of them with huge numbers of followers, that were spreading misinformation and disinformation related to the QAnon conspiracy. The list of permanently suspended accounts includes those belonging to Gen. Michael Flynn, former National Security Advisor to Trump who pleased guilty to felony charges of lying to the FBI and was later pardoned by Trump. The account of Attorney Sidney Powell, who filed numerous election-related lawsuits on behalf of the President and was a dedicated disseminator of QAnon propaganda, was also suspended.  

It's been a riotous day in Washington D.C., one that ended with supporters of President Donald J. Trump storming the United States Capitol, overwhelming the Capitol Police, and interrupting a joint session of Congress that had just begun to certify the Electoral College vote and confirm the election of Trump's duly elected successor, Joseph R. Biden.

It's also been a tumultuous day on the President's favorite social media platform. Twitter first slapped warning labels on three Trump tweets, prohibiting replies, retweets, or likes due to the "risk of violence."

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Twitter slapped this warning label on several Trump tweets today before deleting them. 

After several hours, Twitter escalated its enforcement action, blocking public access to three tweets that violated its rules and locking the President's account for 12 hours.

The deleted tweets included a video in which Trump repeatedly argued that his election was stolen as a result of widespread fraud. In another deleted tweet, Trump vaguely intimated that "These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously stripped away from great patriots..."

The third deleted tweet attacked Vice President Michael Pence for not having the "courage" to overturn the election results, repeating the baseless claims that the certified Electoral College ballots were "fraudulent."

Previously Twitter had labeled these sorts of claims with a mild warning that the claims of election fraud are "disputed." 

The @TwitterSafety account tweeted a series of announcements at roughly 7:00 PM Eastern time, starting with this notice: "As a result of the unprecedented and ongoing violent situation in Washington, D.C., we have required the removal of three @realDonaldTrump Tweets that were posted earlier today for repeated and severe violations of our Civic Integrity policy."

"This means that the account of @realDonaldTrump will be locked for 12 hours following the removal of these Tweets. If the Tweets are not removed, the account will remain locked. Future violations of the Twitter Rules, including our Civic Integrity or Violent Threats policies, will result in permanent suspension of the @realDonaldTrump account."

In a follow-up tweet, Twitter said, "Our public interest policy - which has guided our enforcement action in this area for years - ends where we believe the risk of harm is higher and/or more severe." That tweet linked to a blog post from October 2019, outlining the service's policy on dealing with speech from world leaders.

This isn't the first time that Twitter has taken enforcement actions against Trump's account. They've previously deleted tweets that spread misinformation about COVID-19, for example. But the 12-hour lockout and the threat of a permanent suspension is a significant escalation from Twitter, which had been hoping to avoid confronting the repeated violations before Trump's term ends on January 20.

Following Twitter's action, Facebook imposed a 24-hour block on the President's account, in response to similar posts. In a tweet, Facebook said:

We've assessed two policy violations against President Trump's Page which will result in a 24-hour feature block, meaning he will lose the ability to post on the platform during that time.

Shortly thereafter, Instagram matched that 24-hour block.

Under Twitter's rules, Trump's account will be unlocked 12 hours after he or his staff remove the offending tweets. If they refuse to do so, the account remains locked indefinitely.

[This is a developing story.]