Over much of the past month, Twitter has been seen as the leader in social media’s self-correction toward greater misinformation regulation. Prior to the presidential election, it rolled out warning labels to apply to false information and disabled a key sharing function, then vowed to keep some of these policies in place. In another moment, Twitter halted the spread of a dubious story about Hunter Biden, unleashing widespread criticism from conservatives and applause from liberals.
But Twitter and its CEO founder Jack Dorsey are now put in an unfamiliar position: as the laggards behind Facebook. Facebook, which hasn’t received nearly as many plaudits for its own anti-misinfo policies, on Thursday morning said it was indefinitely banning President Trump from its platform and it would prohibit him from using either Facebook or Instagram through at least presidential inauguration on Jan. 20. Facebook’s decision comes a day after the Trump-incited riot in Washington, D.C., mob violence partly fueled by the president’s comments on social media.
Twitter has declined to immediately follow suit, saying it would continue to monitor the president’s account and weigh his words against future events.
“I ‘predicted’ @jack would do this…am really surprised Zuck beat him to it,” Michael Pachter, a Wedbush Securities analyst who covers social media, wrote on Twitter. “Shame on @jack letting Zuck one-up him.”
Many Twitter users have used its own platform to publicly plead with Dorsey to cut off the president, including Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation and League, and The Lincoln Project, the group of Republicans who turned against Trump and supported Joe Biden during the election. A number of celebrities have added their voices, too. Comedian Sacha Boren Cohen tweeted this: “Today is a chance to change social media forever…Facebook and Twitter have spread Trump’s lies and hate and helped radicalize the extremists who attacked the Capitol.”
No platform has ever handed down a ban against the president, who has made deft use of Facebook and Twitter in his political career, amassing more than 100 million followers on the two sites.
Both Facebook and Twitter took a number of less extreme steps on Wednesday when the violence in the nation’s capital unfolded. Twitter locked President Trump’s account for 12 hours and forced the president to delete several tweets. Facebook barred him for 24 hours, a move Instagram quickly matched.
Original posted at www.forbes.com