What social media companies’ actions toward Trump mean about the state of the First Amendment.
For years, one of the primary ways that people experienced Donald Trump was through his tweets. All of that changed on January 8, when, in the aftermath of the capitol insurrection, Twitter banned @realDonaldTrump.
“Due to the ongoing tensions in the United States, and an uptick in the global conversation in regards to the people who violently stormed the Capitol on January 6, 2021, these two tweets must be read in the context of broader events in the country and the ways in which the President’s statements can be mobilized by different audiences, including to incite violence, as well as in the context of the pattern of behavior from this account in recent weeks,” read the statement, which included the text of the tweets. “After assessing the language in these Tweets against our Glorification of Violence policy, we have determined that these Tweets are in violation of the Glorification of Violence Policy and the user @realDonaldTrump should be immediately permanently suspended from the service.”
Twitter was not the only social media service to crack down on Trump. Snapchat banned him permanently. Facebook banned Trump's account through the remainder of his term and suggested it could ban "indefinitely." Last week, YouTube suspended Trump for a week because they said he violated a violence policy.
This flurry of tech moves has raised questions about free speech and left some Christians wondering how well their First Amendment rights will be protected in the midst of this.
John Inazu is a professor of law and religion at the Washington University Law School. He is the author of Confident Pluralism: Surviving and Thriving through Deep Difference and more recently, with Tim Keller, Uncommon …