Sunday 23 July 2017

Could Donald Trump be banned from Twitter?

US president Donald Trump
US president Donald Trump

Cara McGoogan

Speculation over whether Donald Trump will be impeached has been rife since the US president began his term in January.

The controversial head of state has historically low poll ratings and has been embroiled in scandals including a fight with the FBI, domestic and foreign policy turmoil, and a war with journalists. 

Before impeachment, which requires a two-thirds majority in each house of Congress, Trump could be stripped of access to his second most important platform after the White House: Twitter.

Trump is in danger of being blocked from the 140-character social network, his communication method of choice, after posting a video clip that depicts him body slamming and punching a man with a CNN logo on his face.

The video, which originated on Reddit, was accompanied with a tweet that said: "The dishonest media will NEVER keep us from accomplishing our objectives on behalf of our GREAT AMERICAN PEOPLE!"

Twitter has strict rules governing hate speech and violence on its platform. The social network's terms of service ban violent threats, harassment and hateful conduct. Users found perpetrating any of these in their messages are at risk of being barred.

Its rules state: "You may not make threats of violence or promote violence, including threatening or promoting terrorism." It adds that users cannot engage in "the targeted abuse or harassment of others", in particular if that abuse is "one-sided or includes threats".

Twitter has banned high-profile users in the past for violating its terms. Notable Trump supporter Milo Yiannopoulos was permanently blocked from using the social network last summer for "inciting or engaging in the targeted abuse or harassment of others".

Azealia Banks, Courtney Love and 50 Cent have all had their accounts disabled or suspended for posting abusive or explicit material that is against Twitter's policies.

Trump is at risk of becoming the first president to be blocked from the social network if he continues his aggressive campaign against journalists.

CNN commentator and Watergate journalist Carl Bernstein said the CNN tweet was "very disturbing", adding: "It is a sad day when the President of the United States encourages violence against reporters."

However Trump said he had no intention of watering down his combative tone.

"My use of social media is not Presidential - it's MODERN DAY PRESIDENTIAL. Make American Great Again!" he tweeted. "The FAKE & FRAUDULENT NEWS MEDIA is working hard to convince Republicans and others I should not use social media - but remember, I won the 2016 election with interviews, speeches and social media. I had to beat Fake News, and did. We will continue to WIN!"

Trump last week personally abused two hosts of MSNBC show Morning Joe, calling Joe Scarborough "crazy" and Mika Brzezinski "dumb as a rock".

Twitter would not comment on whether Trump's account could be suspended but said that its rules apply to every user, regardless of their public status and number of followers. It added that it considers whether the overriding goal of an account is for abuse or if that is one element of the messages posted.

Criticism of a media organisation is unlikely to result in a ban from the social network, but regular campaigns of targeted personal abuse could.

Trump has 33.2 million followers on his Twitter account, which has become a focal point of the US presidency, with his daily broadcasts sparking rumours, sending company shares plummeting and leaving commentators confused.

Telegraph.co.uk

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