Since November 8th, the mainstream media and the social media giants of Silicon Valley have launched an all-out crusade against so-called "fake news" sources (of which we're apparently one). Twitter has gone so far as to purge dozens of "alt-right" accounts and just yesterday Reddit CEO, Steve Huffman, announced that he too would ban the "most toxic" Trump supporters who had the audacity to call him names after he abused his administrative privileges to alter other people text threads.
While this is clearly a politically-motivated crusade, one would expect that the newly elected President of the United States and leader of the Republican party, a man who received 60 million votes, would be safe from persecution, right? Well, apparently not, according to an article published by Slate:
Asked whether Twitter would ever consider banning key government officials or even the president himself, a company spokesperson responded via email: “The Twitter Rules prohibit violent threats, harassment, hateful conduct, and multiple account abuse, and we will take action on accounts violating those policies.” Pressed on whether that meant that, hypothetically, Trump himself could be suspended were he to violate those policies, a spokesperson confirmed: “The Twitter Rules apply to all accounts, including verified accounts.”
All of which brings up several important questions. Does calling Chuck Todd a moron or Barney Frank disgusting fall into the "harassment" or "hateful conduct" bucket? Are comments such as these exempt if they can be proven to be factually accurate? All tough questions that need to be sorted out.
"@wzpd8z: Mr. Trump, Chuck Todd is a moron, all kinds of youtube videos showing muslims celebrating 911. I would show it on your ads."— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 30, 2015
Barney Frank looked disgusting--nipples protruding--in his blue shirt before Congress. Very very disrespectful.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 21, 2011
Crooked Hillary's bad judgement forced her to announce that she would go to Charlotte on Saturday to grandstand. Dem pols said no way, dumb!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 24, 2016
If dopey Mark Cuban of failed Benefactor fame wants to sit in the front row, perhaps I will put Gennifer Flowers right alongside of him!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 24, 2016
Facebook, meanwhile, has adopted a more permissive, reasonable stance toward Trump and other public figures. “When we review reports of content that may violate our policies, we take context into consideration,” a Facebook spokesperson said via email. “That context can include the value of political discourse.”
Meanwhile, even Zuckerberg admits that when 60 million people vote for someone then his comments should probably be considered "mainstream political discourse."
"Our real goal is to reflect what our community wants. That kind of content, we would have thought previously that would make a lot of people feel uncomfortable, and people wouldn’t want that. But at the point where the person who’s elected president of the United States is expressing that opinion and has 60 million people who are followers, then the question is, OK, I think that that is mainstream political discourse that I think we need to be pretty careful about saying that that’s not a reasonable [inaudible]."
While we seriously doubt that Twitter would ever follow through on their threats to ban Trump's account, the mere fact that they refuse to rule it out speaks volumes about the company that once declared itself the "free speech wing of the free speech party."