Two hundred and seventy-nine characters are all it took for the President of the United States to send many into a state of concern on Sunday afternoon.
As bizarre as this entire presidency has been, along with Trump’s preference to tweet than hold actual regularly scheduled press conferences, those of us that want to stay abreast of the moves of the leader of the free world have been forced to hit the follow button on his Twitter account.
This is not OK.
This is not right.
This is not normal.
Which is why it’s time for @Jack to shut Trump down.
And while this volatile moment with Iran is just the latest reason why the Twitter CEO needs to suspend the President’s account, it’s also time for Jack Dorsey to live up to some of the things he’s said in the past, even if it means taking on the most powerful man in the country.
“We’re committing Twitter to help increase the collective health, openness, and civility of public conversation, and to hold ourselves publicly accountable towards progress,” Dorsey tweeted back in March of 2018. The message was in response to much of the criticism the social media platform has taken over the last few years due to the overwhelming number of bots, trolls, and harassment that consistently takes place.
Back in April, Dorsey met with Trump at the White House just hours after the President unleashed a series of tweets in which he called the company “very discriminatory” and accused them of “playing political games.”
After the closed-door meeting ended, Dorsey addressed things with his employees and sent a note that stated, “Some of you will be very supportive of our meeting the president, and some of you might feel we shouldn’t take this meeting at all. In the end, I believe it’s important to meet heads of state in order to listen, share our principles and our ideas.”
In June, Twitter announced that it was going to add warning labels to problematic tweets from politicians, like Trump.
By Sunday, the President had started a potentially deadly international game of Chicken with Iran through the use of the social media platform.
“Honestly: F**k you, @jack. You incompetent, lazy, narcissistic, willfully ignorant imitation of a man. Look where your neglect of vision or responsibility has gotten us. You’re Trump’s handmaiden as much as any of his surrogates. Bravo. Well done,” tweeted author Saeed Jones in reply to Trump’s declaration about what his tweets will serve as in terms of a potential war.
But while Dorsey has to take the blame for what he has allowed, in the onset of what many have potentially labeled as #WorldWarIII on Twitter, it isn’t as if other social media platforms are innocent, either.
“The hero of this next movie is a naive, misguided child who spreads naughty propaganda and only has imaginary friends. His name is Mark Zuckerberg,” said Sacha Baron Cohen while he was presenting at Sunday night’s Golden Globes Awards. The actor/comedian has been very vocal about his displeasure with social media companies and has frequently targeted Zuckerberg, Facebook’s creator, and CEO.
“Zuckerberg claimed that new limits on social media would ‘pull back on free expression.’ This is utter nonsense,” Cohen wrote in an Op-Ed for the Washington Post in November. “If a neo-Nazi comes goose-stepping into a restaurant and starts threatening other customers and saying he wants to kill Jews, would the restaurant owner be required to serve him an elegant eight-course meal? Of course not. The restaurant owner has every legal right, and, indeed, a moral obligation, to kick the Nazi out. So do internet companies.”
Instagram is on the hook, too.
On Sunday, Donald Trump Jr. posted photos showing off an assault rifle with “Crusader” written on it, along with the matching medieval symbol. It also featured a magazine that sported Hillary Clinton’s face. In some instances in the past, when the crusader symbol was used on weapons and materials it was aligned with a Far-Right terrorist group.
But yet, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram have done nothing but tolerate these actions.
There are some, especially in this climate, who will immediately support Trump’s tweets, Zuckerberg’s inaction, and Don Jr’s photos as free speech, without knowing what the First Amendment actually says or means.
Because while it does “guarantee freedom of expression by prohibiting Congress from restricting the press or the rights of individuals to speak freely,” the President isn’t just some “individual.”
Over the years, Twitter has become a great lecture on the positives and negatives of free speech. Every day you get to see people expressing things that you either agree or disagree with. We have seen people get in trouble because of their tweets, while others have made names/careers for themselves.
However, none of those people occupied the Oval Office and have repeatedly shown us that they lack the decorum to be trusted with sensitive and classified information, as well as having the ability to put the country in a position of great danger over the past few days.
History will remember Trump’s actions as something we’ve never seen before. When situations like that present themselves, something must be done for the sake of balance.
And right now, the only stabilizer would be for @Jack to shutdown @realDonaldTrump.