Trump’s social media suspension part of Big Tech’s increasing use of bans

Thomas Hornall, PA
·2-min read

Twitter’s banning of Donald Trump illustrates the increasing appetite of social media giants to suspend controversial accounts.

Facebook and Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, also suspended Mr Trump’s account “indefinitely and for at least the next two weeks until the peaceful transition of power is complete”, said Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg.

The outgoing US president’s Twitter account, his main method of communication, was permanently revoked on Friday, adding his name to a list of people who have been kicked off Big Tech platforms in recent years.

Katie Hopkins, the former Apprentice star turned right-wing provocateur, had more than a million followers on Twitter when she was booted off the site last year.

Katie Hopkins
Katie Hopkins (Philip Toscano/PA)

Twitter said she was suspended for breaking rules on hate speech after sparking outrage with comments on race, religion and immigration.

She had been heavily criticised over remarks comparing migrants to cockroaches as well as claiming the photograph of a dead Syrian boy lying on a beach – which sparked a wave of compassion across Europe – was staged.

“Keeping Twitter safe is a top priority for us – abuse and hateful conduct have no place on our service and we will continue to take action when our rules are broken,” a Twitter spokesman said.

Ms Hopkins appears to be posting videos to a small Facebook page currently, which has just over 23,000 followers.

Another British right-wing personality, Milo Yiannopoulos, was banned from Twitter in 2016 after being accused of urging his followers to abuse actress Leslie Jones and her role in the female-led Ghostbusters reboot.

The former technology editor at the Breitbart website had more than 300,000 followers on the site and described himself as “the most fabulous supervillain on the internet”.

He came to be seen as an “alt-right” figurehead, was recruited to Breitbart by Mr Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon, and was known to refer to the president as “daddy”.

Facebook has also stepped up its banning of accounts deemed to be extremist, including one belonging to Mr Yiannopoulos.

In 2019, the social media site banned figures including Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the Nation of Islam, and right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones for violating its policies on hate and violence.

The company said it has also banned right-wing figures Paul Nehlen, Paul Joseph Watson and Laura Loomer, along with Mr Jones’s conspiracy-promoting site Infowars.

The permanent suspensions were criticised by Mr Trump at the time, who said he was “monitoring and watching, closely!!”

He has previously claimed social media companies are biased against conservatives, something the companies have rejected.

Supporters of Mr Trump have cited the fact that Mr Farrakhan, who has been widely accused of anti-Semitism and has referred to “Satanic Jews”, and Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Khomeini remain on Twitter.