COLUMBUS, Ohio (WDTN) – Twitter permanently suspended President Donald Trump’s personal account Friday, siting a violation of the social media company’s policies. It’s now sparking a debate about free speech online.
A blog post made by Twitter after Trump’s account was removed states:
“We made it clear going back years that these accounts are not above our rules entirely and cannot use twitter to incite violence, among other things. We will continue to be transparent around our policies and their enforcement.”
This move Friday brings up concerns over censorship and blocking free speech.
Ohio State Moritz College of Law Professor Ned Foley said this gets into difficult territory under the First Amendment.
“Because now we’re not talking about opinion, now we’re not even talking about false statement of facts,” Foley said. “Now we’re talking about incitement. we’re talking about urging violence, urging unlawfulness, and when you’re urging unlawfulness directed against the government itself, that’s where you get to this territory called sedition or insurrection.”
A 1969 U.S. Supreme Court case, Brandenburg v. Ohio, creates a two-part test to determine if inflammatory speech is illegal. It has to both direct lawless action and be likely to cause that lawless action.
Foley said now it will have to be determined by prosecutors if the President’s rally Wednesday and social media posts could lead to charges for inciting the riot.
“Difficult only in the sense that they want to be careful about it because of our free speech values, because you’re talking about the presidency, because you’re talking about things that are so momentous like what happened to America this week, that’s not going to be cavalier,” Foley said. “That’s going to be a very serious deliberate judgment.”
Facebook also placed an indefinite suspension on Trump’s Facebook account.