Update: Twitter has restored Trump’s account as of Thursday afternoon.
In a reversal of its long standing policy, Twitter has locked the President of the United States’ Twitter account and forced the removal of three offending tweets.
“As a result of the unprecedented and ongoing violent situation in Washington, D.C., we have required the removal of three @realDonaldTrump Tweets that were posted earlier today for repeated and severe violations of our Civic Integrity policy,” the site writes.
As part of the action, Trump will be locked out of his account for at least 12 hours. The account will remain locked beyond that, as long as the tweets are not deleted, the site adds. Beyond the current action, Twitter adds that future violations of its policies, “will result in permanent suspension of the @realDonaldTrump account.”
The service has long contended that tweets from a prominent figure like Trump were in the public interest, in spite of breaking its stated terms of service. According to Twitter guidelines,
A critical function of our service is providing a place where people can openly and publicly respond to their leaders and hold them accountable. With this in mind, there are certain cases where it may be in the public’s interest to have access to certain Tweets, even if they would otherwise be in violation of our rules.
The removed tweets include content that was early flagged by the service, “due to a risk of violence,” all arriving in the wake of a violent storming of the U.S. Capitol:
The trio includes a pre-recorded video that pleaded with rioters to “go home,” before adding, “We love you; you’re very special.” Following the earlier action, Twitter told TechCrunch, “In regard to the ongoing situation in Washington, DC, Twitter’s Trust & Safety teams are working to protect the public conversation occurring on the service and will take action on any content that violates the Twitter Rule. Let us be clear: Threats of and calls to violence have no place on Twitter, and we will enforce our policies accordingly.”
Calls for the President’s twitter account to be deleted have intensified during today’s events. It has largely been assumed that Trump would be allowed to continue tweeting at least through the end of his presidency, but what unfolded at the Capitol today — and his responding tweets — appear to have caused the service to accelerate those punitive actions.
Today’s action certainly doesn’t bode well for the fate of Trump’s account after returning to civilian life. The White House is also still in control of the @Potus account, through the transition on January 20.