Skip to content

Twitter and Facebook have the right to ban Trump’s accounts. But that won’t stop the violent rhetoric.

People in this story

Photo by Ruby Wallau/Northeastern University
Trump Twitter stock on Jan. 08, 2021.

After a series of increasingly incendiary posts late last week, President Donald Trump has been permanently suspended from Twitter, “due to the risk of further incitement to violence,” the company said in a statement on Friday. The move is one of several similar steps taken by social media organizations after a mob of the President’s supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol—Trump was suspended indefinitely from Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitch, and other social platforms last week as well. 

Major tech companies also took action against Parler, a fast-growing social media app that had grown popular with Trump die-hards after Facebook and Twitter started cracking down on misinformation and violence. Apple and Google removed the app from their stores, and Amazon made plans to suspend  Parler from its web-hosting service.

As private companies, Facebook and Twitter are well within their rights to suspend users who violate their terms of service, say two Northeastern law professors. But, says Woodrow Hartzog, professor of law and computer science, as social platforms become further enmeshed in people’s daily lives, it’s time to “rethink our entire regulatory approach to tech companies.” There’s relatively little government oversight of social media platforms, and even fewer regulations that have any sort of teeth, Hartzog says.

The First Amendment, which protects free speech in the U.S., applies to government censorship of protected speech, but not to private companies such as Twitter, Facebook, and Twitch, says Claudia Haupt, associate professor of law and political science. Further, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act protects websites from lawsuits if a user posts something illegal.

Continue reading at News@Northeastern.

More Stories

Hundreds of people stage a demonstration against Xi Jinping's zero-Covid policy at Liangmaqiao district in Beijing, China on Nov. 27, 2022. The Chinese government has faced unprecedented dissent protests in several cities, including Urumqi, Shanghai, and Beijing.

Mass protests may ease covid restrictions in China but won’t lead to any democratic freedoms, Northeastern experts say

CHEROKEE, NC - MAY 11: A Native American poses for pictures along the highway on May 11, 2018 in Cherokee, North Carolina. Located near the entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park on the North Carolina side of the Appalachian Mountains, and at the southern end of the Blue Ridge Parkway, the region is home to the Cherokee Nation band of Indians.

Words—and tribal location—matter to citizen of Cherokee Nation

A general view of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) headquarters, in Washington, D.C., on Monday, September 19, 2022.

The Department of Homeland Security, ‘not set up for success,’ navigates rocky 20 years. How are things today?