The case against banning Trump from Twitter

Revue
 
Last night in San Francisco, protesters turned the Twitter building against itself. A group calling i
 

The Interface

January 3 · Issue #55 · View online
An evening newsletter about Facebook, social networks, and democracy.

Last night in San Francisco, protesters turned the Twitter building against itself. A group calling itself Resistance SF projected three words against the wall of Twitter’s Market Street headquarters: “@jack is complicit.” The action came just a few hours after President Donald Trump, in his latest madman outburst on the platform, bragged about the size (and functionality) of his nuclear “button” relative to Kim Jong Un’s.
The tweet made for a stressful evening. (Your humble newsletter author shut down Twitter, proceeded directly home, and drank two Negronis alone.) It also renewed calls for Twitter to ban Trump from the platform — and to shame the executives who have so far resisted the Resistance.
The case for banning Trump goes something like this: Trump’s tweets constitute credible threats of violence, and violate Twitter’s terms of service. By banning him from the platform, Twitter would prevent the president from inciting violence — or escalating nuclear tensions with the lunatic running North Korea — and thereby promote the general safety and well being of the republic. 
This is not the only case for banning Trump; my colleague TC Sottek also favors the move, based on the … alternative rationale that it would humiliate him. But of the dozens of quote-tweets I saw yesterday of the president’s remarks, the main idea is that continuing to allow Trump on Twitter represents, on executives’ part, an abdication of their moral responsibility. Resistance SF took that idea and lit up headquarters with it.
I’m sympathetic to the idea that the president should be held accountable for inciting violence. And yet I continue to balk at the idea that Twitter should ban Trump, largely for practical reasons. The idea that we will someday live in a world without Trump tweets is comforting. But if you think that world will arrive anytime soon, you’re kidding yourself.
Consider how many options Trump would have if he were banned from Twitter. He could relay his tweets through proxies, either in writing or by dictating them. He could post his thoughts on Facebook or another social network, where an infinite number of bots would screenshot them and repost them. And even if he and all his proxies were banned by every social network, both current and future, he would still be able to call a network news conference more or less whenever he wanted. 
Depending on how crazy Trump gets this year — and recent events suggest there is plenty of crazy left to unspool — Twitter might be forced to take some sort of action against the president’s account. But the company is right to consider this a move of last resort. Kicking Trump off Twitter might bring a few moments’ peace to the platform. But as long as he’s president, Trump is likely to dominate the conversation on Twitter just as he does elsewhere.
What Trump’s critics really want is to ban him from the White House. And I understand why ban-Trump brigade is impatient for 2020 to arrive. But to spend much effort on a proxy war against Twitter strikes me as misplaced energy. If you want to protest those complicit with Trump, start with the people who voted for him.

Democracy
Trump’s First Big Twitter Day of 2018: Analyzing Nuclear Buttons and the ‘Corrupt Media’ - The New York Times
A Saucy App Knows China’s Taste in News. The Censors Are Worried.
Iranian Authorities Block Access to Social Media Tools
Elsewhere
YouTube can't contain Logan Paul's video because YouTubers know the rules
Snapchat Considers Making Users Sit Through 3 Seconds of Ads
Takes
Banning Trump from Twitter would be counterproductive.
Why 2018 Will Be the Year of the YouTube Moral Panic
The Logan Paul "Suicide Forest" Video Should Be a Reckoning For YouTube
And finally ...
Towards a Bra-free Instagram Experience
Talk to me
Questions? Comments? Reasons your Twitter account should be suspended? casey@theverge.com 
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Carefully curated by Casey Newton with Revue.
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