President Trump is back on Twitter after his account was suspended for twelve hours. Since his return, the President tweeted a video message. First he condemns the attack on the Capitol, then says his focus will now shift to a smooth, orderly and seamless transition of power ahead of the new administration being inaugurated.
Meanwhile, Mark Zuckerberg posted on Facebook that his company intends to keep the president blocked indefinitely for the next two weeks on Facebook and Instagram until the peaceful transition of power is complete.
Caitlin Carlson is an Associate Professor with Seattle University’s Department of Communication and said, "It’s too little too late. It felt like now that we got insurgence on the Capitol, literally sitting on the Speaker of the House’s office, now you want to restrict the insightful expression that’s coming out of these accounts?"
The president has been known to tweet and post controversial and inaccurate statements before, but Carlson reminds us the companies are financially motivated. "These are for-profit media companies. Meaning, above all else, their primary goal is to make money. So it’s unsurprising, that without government interventions or other guard rails, they’re going to do whatever is in their financial best interest. Up until recently, it was in their financial best interest to keep this account up and somewhat unchecked."
Carlson said as virtual private spaces, social media companies are within their right to implement community standards and rules. She reminds us users hit the "I Agree" button when signing up for service.
A countless number of comments have been circulating online in response to President Trump’s accounts being blocked, including this analogy from Courtney Summers of Shelton.
"I can’t just walk into a bar and start talking people into fighting. They’re going to kick me out and they should," said Summers. "You’re held to a standard of behavior, and if you don’t meet that behavior, they have every right to say you’re not welcome here."
Summers said she’s even had her own personal comments removed from social media sites before, and said her behavior could’ve been better.
Carlson said personal responsibility aside, there’s also an expectation we as users can demand from companies. At the very least, she said the companies can provide context with content. For example, Twitter and Facebook have started labeling posts about election fraud as misinformation.
"You’ve handed him a megaphone. Are you responsible in any way shape or form for what comes out of it, I think so," said Carlson.