What Would Happen if Twitter Banned Trump?
Every few months the same debate re-emerges: Should Twitter ban Donald Trump? Usually, it’s because of something particularly egregious, conspiratorial, untrue or geopolitically reckless that the president tweeted. Many of these tweets would result in a takedown or a temporary suspension if they came from a normal user’s account, but Twitter has made an exception for heads of state, citing a “newsworthiness” clause that allows the company to evade responsibility.
The debate gained new relevance this week after Twitter added a link to two presidential tweets that made false claims about mail-in ballots. It was the first time that Twitter had taken a step like this. The link, labeled “Get the facts,” directed users to a page with links to a CNN article about the president’s unsubstantiated claims as well as additional debunking tweets for context. Twitter’s move prompted Mr. Trump to claim that it was interfering in the 2020 election and to threaten to “strongly regulate, or close” the platform down. (It’s not clear he has anything approaching that power.)
What should Twitter do about Mr. Trump’s behavior? I don’t really think it’s possible to “deplatform” the president of the United States — that is, ban him from social media sites to decrease his public reach. If Twitter were to go nuclear it would set off a censorship debate so fierce that the issue would end up in Congress or the courts. It would also place the company in the role where it feels most uncomfortable: acting as an arbiter of truth.