Senator Kamala Harris Wants Trump Removed From Twitter
On October 1 2019, Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) wrote a formal letter to Jack Dorsey, CEO and co-founder of Twitter, to remove President Donald Trump from Twitter for violating the site’s user agreement terms.
In her letter to Dorsey, Harris reiterates that Twitter’s user agreement states that users “may not engage in the targeted harassment of someone, or incite other people to do so,” and cannot “attempt to harass, intimidate, or silence someone else’s voice...”
She makes the case that Trump has broken the Twitter user agreement in the past several days with his tweets concerning the whistleblower that brought to light Trump’s call with the president of Ukraine on July 25th. She states that Trump is targeting the whistleblower, the person who provided the whistleblower information, and House Intelligence Committee Chairman, Adam Schiff.
Finally, she argues that Trump is inciting “blatant threats” and uses his tweet where he references, “...If the Democrats are successful in removing the President from office (which they will never be), it will cause a Civil War like fracture in this Nation from which our Country will never heal.”
Harris ends her letter to Dorsey with a historical record of how Twitter has responded to people who break the user agreement. She mentions people such as Alex Jones, Martin Shkreli, and James Woods— all of whom are either banned or suspended for user agreement violations. She believes, “the President’s recent tweets rise to the level that Twitter should consider suspending his account. Others have had their accounts suspended for less offensive behavior.”
According to CNBC, “Twitter said it plans to respond to the letter. The White House did not immediately provide a response.” CNBC continues in explaining that “Twitter is immune from liability from Trump and others’ tweets due to a law known as Section 230 of the Communication Decency Act.” This law, which is highly contested, states that “internet platforms are not legally responsible for the speech of their users.”
Why Does This Matter?
Depending on how Dorsey and Twitter respond to Harris’ request to suspend President Trump, there could be serious implications for world leaders who voice their political opinions on the platform moving forward. Even though Twitter stated, back in June, that they plan to flag “abusive” tweets by world leaders. A suspension of Trump’s account will prove Twitter is taking their user agreements seriously.
Some fear that Twitter will be infringing and policing the free speech of others. WIRED reporter, Zeynep Tufekci, does not share this concern. As stated in her article, “It’s the (Democracy-Poisoning) Golden Age of Free Speech”. She explains that when big platforms (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube) kick someone off their site for violating the standards of the user agreement, “it’s not technically an infringement on free speech,'' even if it looks like it.
Tufecki continues by explaining that “anyone in the world can still read what the far-right troll Tim “Baked Alaska” Gionet has to say on the internet. What Twitter has denied him, by kicking him off, is attention.”