(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) In the 11th hour of his presidency, social media giants banned President Trump's accounts. A decision that's sparked conversation surrounding freedom of speech.
Following the deadly riot on Capitol Hill at the hands of a pro-Trump mob, Twitter, Facebook and subsequently Instagram permanently blocked the President from all platforms- citing the President's posts incited violence.
Some have questioned whether the move restricts freedom of speech, but a local First Amendment expert said it's completely legal.
“This is not a violation of the First Amendment. The First Amendment protects citizens from the government infringing on our rights. This is not the government cracking down on a citizen. This is a form of censorship, but a legal form of censorship because there is that user agreement that any consumer agrees to when they make any social media account,” said Dr. Jennifer Jackson, MWSU communications professor.
Dr. Jennifer Jackson teaches public relations and conducts research on civil disobediance and First Amendment rights. She said considering Twitter's user agreement, she thought President Trump would have been banned long before he was.
“I was surprised when it took place that they finally did it.," said Dr. Jackson, "6,000 plus tweets either were marked as potential lies, misleading or marked as some sort of aggrevation over the past four years. If that many were reported, why wasn't there at least some suspensions along the way?" said Dr. Jackson.
Thursday, Facebook banned President Trump indefinitely and at least for the remainder of his time in office.
In a Facebook post, Mark Zuckerberg said, "We believe the risks of allowing the President to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great," citing the President was using the platform to "incite violent insurrection."
Friday, Twitter follow suit.
Twitter permanently suspended his account after the company said two separate tweets he posted Friday violated their Glorification of Violence Policy when read in the context of the Capitol riot. Here are those two tweets:
— “The 75,000,000 great American Patriots who voted for me, AMERICA FIRST, and MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN, will have a GIANT VOICE long into the future. They will not be disrespected or treated unfairly in any way, shape or form!!!”
— “To all of those who have asked, I will not be going to the Inauguration on January 20th.”
Dr. Jackson said President Trump's tweets do incite violence.
“The continued calls for fighting for Trump to stay in office is really an incitement of violence because that’s the only way it’s going to happen because legally, the election has been confirmed,” said Dr. Jackson.
In President Trump's first response since the widespread social media shutdown, he condemned the bans.
“I think that big tech is doing a horrible thing for our country and to our country. I believe it’s going to be a catastrophic mistake for them.”
Now that social media giants are stepping off the sidelines- moving forward, Dr. Jackson said bans must be balanced and hold Democrats and Republicans to the same standards.
“And that’s the moral compass the social media companies have now stepped into is can they show that they are fair and equal and not a ban on conservative speech. I wouldn’t call this a conservative consideration, I would call this an extremist situation- but if they are going to go after a Republican President, they have to be fair and go after Democrats who do the same. It has to be fair. It has to be universal across the board,” said Dr. Jackson.
Tuesday, Youtube announced President Trump's channel is suspened for one week as it incited violence after the riot on Capitol Hill.