According to the Twitter Terms of Service, we get to use Twitter and the previous president of the United States of America and leader of the Free World doesn’t.
This article attempts to explain a situation that occurred on the social media site Twitter that resulted in Jack Dorsey and the rest of the Twitter team permanently banning President Donald Trump’s account.
In addition, many members of the extremist group QAnon were banned from Twitter as well.
This situation has broader implications than people being banned from a few social media sites.
In a larger context, as social media users, do we want to feel free to say what we want on social media platforms?
Let’s find out more about why the Twitter Terms of Service caused Donald Trump to get banned from Twitter on January 8 of this year.
Here is Twitter’s explanation as to the reasons Jack Dorsey and the Twitter Team shut down Trump’s account on January 8, 2021. The press release explains that Twitter Terms of Service were violated.
Related Reading: Here is more information about Jack Dorsey.
What is Section 230?
Section 230 is an internet law that caused both Facebook and Twitter to ban Donald Trump. This law deals with offensive internet content. Section 230 was created to filter offensive speech.
According to the New York Times podcast, The Argument, the law is designed for people to “self-monitor” and make sure they don’t put offensive material on the internet.
Twitter asked itself if Donald Trump’s speech, full of what Twitter considered misinformation, was in the public’s best interest. On January 8, Twitter decided that it wasn’t.
According to the podcast, Jack Dorsey and Twitter were within their rights to make this decision. Twitter can regulate content on its site since it is a privately owned company. This is not a free speech issue, The NY Times podcasters maintain.
People can go elsewhere to find a voice. The Constitution does not guarantee people have rights to a Twitter account.
However, Matt Gaetz, a conservative politician, argued that the Twitter Terms of Service should not be used in place of the U.S. Constitution.
Twitter was not alone in these punitive actions. Facebook and Snapchat also threw Trump off their sites after the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. capital.
Twitter Terms of Service includes a rule against the Glorification of Violence.
Here is Twitter’s Glorification of Violence Policy.
The screenshot below shows Donald Trump’s tweets which Jack Dorsey claims violated the Twitter Terms of Service.
Here are the Twitter Terms of Service in its entirety.
After the violence at the U.S. Capital, Amazon banned Parler from its cloud services. Parler did not have social media moderation of its content.
What is Social Media Moderation?
Social media moderation of social media content exists to make sure users have a safe place to interact online. The sites do this by monitoring the content users put on their websites. Often guidelines are posted so people know not to post inappropriate content.
Parler, of course, had a right to make that business decision to keep its site free of social media moderation just as Jack Dorsey had a right to close Trump’s account for violating the Twitter Terms of Service.
However, Amazon, Google, and Apple, companies that pulled the plug on Parler, did not wish to be associated with the site that had no social media moderation.
According to the NY Times podcast, Amazon, Google, and Apple did not want to be held liable for violent content that had no social media moderation. According to CBS News, Section 230 would not protect these firms from liability if they were sued.
“Section 230 does not protect platforms in criminal cases.”
We are seeing renewed calls to get rid of Section 230 or calls to protect the law. Others are calling for the moderation of Section 230.
However, according to CBS News, without Section 230, social media platforms would have to prescreen social media content to ensure the content is not objectionable.
Reaction to the Twitter Terms of Service Implementation
The days following Twitter’s ban of Trump:
Reactions to Jack Dorsey’s implementation of the Twitter Terms of Service were mixed.
Some people felt Trump had violated Twitter Terms of Service for years and Twitter waiting until now to act was confusing and misleading.
Next, people were so upset that Twitter banned Trump from use of the site, protests were scheduled to occur at Twitter headquarters in San Francisco. Apparently, by banning Trump and the others, Twitter was seen as “anti-conservative.”
In addition, conservatives flocked to other social media sites like MeWe. Conservatives initially flocked to Parler, but Amazon shut down Parler’s cloud services. Also, Apple and Google stopped downloads of the app.
As a result, conservatives have been flocking to MeWe since the ban and the November 3 election. For more information, here is a MeWe review.
UPDATE: Prior to this post’s publication, Parler went back on the web in limited form thanks to the help of a Russian-based company.
This quote from a Quora user shows he’s vehemently opposed to social media moderation such as the type we saw when the Twitter Terms of Service were implemented:
“You get an unequal amount of news that is skewed in favor of the censor!
Then, the question arises, ‘’Who censors the censor”? Due to this, we are moving towards an authoritarian society which augers no good!”
Social media users everywhere are complaining about frustrations caused by using social media sites:
- Twitter users are mad that conservatives were banned.
- Facebook users are mad they keep ending up in Facebook Jail.
- Instagram users are upset about Shadowbans, an Instagram penalty. More information about this penalty can be found in this article about unfollow apps.
- Quora users are furious they get called “spammers.”
Since Section 230 is a law written by politicians, people feel 230 is an example of government interference in their lives.
Whether 230 is upheld, repealed, or tweaked remains to be seen.
Wrapping Up: Twitter Terms of Service
In closing, this post reviewed two situations that occurred in January 2021 after the riots at the U.S. Capital.
Donald Trump was accused of being in violation of Twitter Terms of Service, and Parler was in violation of Section 230, a law against offensive material on the internet.
This article then sought to pose a question about whether Section 230, a law against offensive content on the internet, falls within the larger right of all Americans to free speech as guaranteed by the First Amendment.
This post also raised the issue of government interference in social media which many people find objectionable.
Readers, please share so social media users are aware of the violation of the Twitter Terms of Service that resulted in Donald Trump and QAnon members being banned from Twitter and other social media sites.
By sharing, you also let social media users know about the issues about social media moderation of content put on social media sites.
I look forward to your views in the comments section. What do you think?
In contrast to Jack Dorsey and the Twitter Terms of Service, do you believe this ban is a violation of the guarantee of all Americans to Free Speech provided to them by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution?
Do you believe government interference in social media as evidenced by Section 230 is wrong or in place to protect social media users?
What do you think of Section 230? Should the law be upheld, repealed, or improved?