Wednesday, November 18, 2020


There's going to be a big, annoying distraction within days, if not hours, of Joe Biden's inauguration. The New York Times reports:
Many world leaders generally have wider latitude on Twitter and Facebook because their comments and posts are regarded as political speech that is in the realm of public interest. But what will happen to President Trump’s accounts on the social media platforms when he leaves office?

At Tuesday’s [Senate Judiciary Committee] hearing, Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s chief executive, said the company would no longer make policy exceptions for Mr. Trump after he leaves office in January. During Mr. Trump’s time as a world leader, Twitter allowed him to post content that violated its rules, though it began adding labels to some of the tweets starting in May to indicate that the posts were disputed or glorified violence.

“If an account suddenly is not a world leader anymore, that particular policy goes away,” Mr. Dorsey said.
How soon after Trump leaves office do you think he'll manage to violate Twitter's rules? It'll be days at most. It could be minutes -- he'll probably be posting lies and conspiracy theories about President Biden and the election on the flight from D.C. to Florida. If Dorsey is serious, censorship and even suspension from Twitter could happen on January 20. It'll certainly happen that month. It will be hard to say whether Trump is deliberately testing Twitter's limits or just ranting the way he always rants on the platform. But he'll cross the line very quickly.

If he's suspended -- or even banned -- congressional Republicans, especially if they still control the Senate (which I think is likely), will want to make social media censorship America's #1 news story and Congress's top priority. Biden will be trying to deal with the pandemic, economic difficulties, and whatever mess Trump has left him in the foreign policy realm, while also hoping to change U.S. policy on immigration, climate, health care, and other issues -- but Republicans (and the right-wing media) will be acting as if this is America's greatest crisis. (They'll probably be aided in this by commentators with mainstream and even liberal credibility -- Bill Maher, Bari Weiss, Glenn Greenwald -- who'll agree that Twitter's actions against Trump constitute a chilling, fascist "cancellation" of the ex-president.)

Maybe it'll be a minor blip. Maybe someone will show Trump how to download the Parler app onto his phone and he'll just move there. But it'll be a distraction we don't need.

No comments: