America has been changed on many levels in the wake of the Capitol riot on January 6 that not only left five American citizens dead but shook the entire country to its very core.
Part of the fallout from that deadly day has been a crackdown on free speech, as President Donald Trump’s social media accounts were suspended shortly after. The shocking move was quickly praised by many left-leaning journalists, but Fox News host Howard Kurtz warns that the press isn’t quite grasping what silencing the president means for free speech in the future.
What does Kurtz mean?
At first, Twitter suspended Trump’s account for 12 hours following the Capitol riots, which everyone thought was massive news. The real news hit shortly afterward, when Twitter would go on to permanently suspended the president’s personal account with 88 million followers, along with limiting his official POTUS account.
In an appearance on “America’s News HQ” on Saturday, Kurtz argued that while Twitter could have stood behind their reasoning to first suspend the president from tweeting for 12 hours given that he was still going on about unproven allegations of election fraud, making the suspension permanent looks like “payback.”
“For Twitter to make this a permanent ban, to continue while Donald Trump is a private citizen seems like pure political payback against a president who fought very hard to strip legal immunity from Twitter and Facebook and other social media giants,” Kurtz said, as quoted by Breitbart.
Of course, Kurtz was referring to the president’s repeated demands for Congress to strip Twitter and other social media giants of Section 230 coverage, which protects the platforms from liability lawsuits.
The Fox News host also called the permanent suspension of Trump on Twitter and other social media platforms a “finger in the eye” to the president’s loyal supporters.
Why the ban?
Kurtz also touched on the reasons Twitter provided for enacting such a harsh and unprecedented ban on the president’s primary form of communication to all of his supporters. One of those tweets, which seemed to trigger the perma-ban, was Trump simply stating that he would not be attending President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.
“Twitter claims that this has been perceived by some of the president’s followers and prompted them somehow to start tweeting threats about a second insurrection at the Capitol next week. I don’t know how you pin that on, I’m not going to the inauguration,” Kurtz said.
“And there’s a celebratory mood among many journalists online and elsewhere, who think, oh, this is great, and not even pausing to consider the free speech implications and how they would react if it was somebody on the left who was suddenly being kicked off this incredibly important platform that all journalists read,” Kurtz noted.
Trump wasn’t the only person banned on that day or throughout the week, as thousands of conservative voices on the platform complained about losing large chunks of followers. According to liberal outlet Vox, that was because Twitter made the decision to ban a large number of “QAnon” associated accounts, which continued to spread conspiracy theories about the 2020 election, among other, wilder claims that some attribute as one of the causes for the Capitol riots.
Twitter officials claimed that the messaging from the accounts that were purged violated the company’s “coordinated harmful activity” clause in its terms of service.