Twitter has previously flagged President Donald Trump’s tweets with warning labels and disclaimers accusing the president of spreading misinformation, but so far has refrained from outright banning Trump’s account.
Come Jan. 20, 2021, that may change.
A spokesperson for Twitter confirmed to Forbes earlier this month that Trump’s account will no longer be protected under Twitter’s “World Leaders policy” after President-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated.
Trump tweets that violate Twitter’s rules on election misinformation or hate speech, for example, could see enforcement action taken against the president’s account. Trump will have to follow the same guidelines as regular citizens, the spokesman said.
In the weeks following the U.S. presidential election, Trump has repeatedly claimed on Twitter that widespread voter fraud cost him the election. He has raised concerns about voting machines, claimed Trump votes were “routed to Biden,” and asserted that battleground states “CANNOT LEGALLY CERTIFY” the results of their elections even as states legally certified their election results. For each of these claims, Twitter has added a notification to Trump’s tweets that says, “This claim about election fraud is disputed.”
President Trump is the second most-followed politician on Twitter, with 88.6 million followers — only behind former President Barack Obama’s 125 million. After he leaves office, any enforcement action taken against his account will be noticed.
Twitter has come under fire from Republican politicians who have accused the platform of engaging in censorship and bias against right-leaning points of view. The social media platform enjoys certain protections under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a federal law that protects internet companies from being liable for content posted on their platforms by third parties.
President Trump and other Republicans have called for Section 230 to be reformed, with the president threatening to veto major defense legislation should Congress fail to address the issue.
Section 230, which is a liability shielding gift from the U.S. to “Big Tech” (the only companies in America that have it – corporate welfare!), is a serious threat to our National Security & Election Integrity. Our Country can never be safe & secure if we allow it to stand…..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 2, 2020
Reform of Section 230 does have bipartisan support. Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) recently introduced a bill with Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) to strip big tech companies of their Section 230 protections.
Today I introduced the Break Up Big Tech Act with @RepGosar to remove #Sec230 immunity for tech companies who act like publishers, censoring and manipulating users, treating us and our attention like products to make their billions. https://t.co/kstFKsUL85
— Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (@TulsiPress) December 10, 2020
Once Trump is no longer president, he will be subject to the same rules as other Twitter users. Typically, the first violation of one of Twitter’s rules will result in Twitter either limiting the visibility of the violating tweet or requiring a user to remove the tweet before he can tweet again from that account. But repeated violations can result in an account becoming permanently suspended, which Twitter describes as its “most severe enforcement action.”
“Permanently suspending an account will remove it from global view, and the violator will not be allowed to create new accounts. When we permanently suspend an account, we notify people that they have been suspended for abuse violations, and explain which policy or policies they have violated and which content was in violation,” the Twitter rules state. A user may appeal a permanent suspension by filing a report with Twitter.