The banning of US President Donald Trump from virtually every major social platform has sparked a whole new round of controversy and debate over whether social media networks should be allowed to cut off access to users whose opinions they don’t agree with and when that line has been crossed.

Here’s what’s been happening this week in the wake of ‘the Trump dump’…

Twitter shares drop 7%

While both Twitter and Facebook have been largely praised for taking more decisive action on Trump’s account, following his comments that ignited the Capital riots, Twitter could also be set to take a hit, due to concerns that, in losing one of its most popular users, that could impact overall usage.

As reported by Bloomberg, Twitter shares fell 7% after it announced the permanent suspension of Trump’s account, with analysts warning of ongoing usage impacts.

Trump has leaned on Twitter, in particular, where he has more than 88 million followers, to share his every thought, sparking widespread media coverage and engagement with his tweets. Taking Trump out of the picture could reduce the relevance of the platform in some respects, which may have a bigger impact than many expect.

There are also concerns that Twitter’s action could invite further regulation of social media.

As per Bloomberg:

“The ban shows the company is making editorial decisions, and opens the door to more regulation of social media under the next administration.”

Parler removed from Google Play and App Store

The expansion of Trumps ban debate also includes the latest action taken against free-speech aligned platform Parler, which saw a huge increase in downloads in the wake of the Trump bans.

But Parler has since been removed from both the App Store and from the Google Play store, due to its failure to moderate posts which encouraged violence and crime.

Which makes sense, albeit controversial, as people ask where the fundamentals of free speech fit into that same approach?

Twitter suspends more than 70,000 accounts following the Capitol Riots

Have you noticed a drop in your Twitter follower numbers of late?

While this may not affect many of us in the UK, you may have noticed a little bit of a drop if you have a large following – though that may reveal an uncomfortable truth about your audience that you may also need to deal with.

According to a new update from Twitter, in the wake of the Capitol riots last Wednesday, it launched a mass purge of accounts that it found were primarily dedicated to sharing QAnon content.

Twitter said:

“Many of the individuals impacted by this updated enforcement action held multiple accounts, driving up the total number of accounts impacted. Since Friday, more than 70,000 accounts have been suspended as a result of our efforts.”

Twitter says that these accounts “were engaged in sharing harmful QAnon-associated content at scale and were primarily dedicated to the propagation of this conspiracy theory across the service”.

Twitter notes that, along with its regular spam account challenges, which it also warned about late last week, this new action against QAnon related accounts has seen some profiles lose thousands of followers in a matter of days.

Facebook will remove posts that include the phrase ‘Stop the Steal’ in the lead-up to Inauguration Day

Facebook has long been criticised for allowing too much free speech on its platforms, even when such discussion has veered into the direct promotion of physical violence, advocated dangerous movements and more.

But in the wake of last week’s Capitol riots, Facebook’s taking a tougher stance. Following its announcement of US President Donald Trump’s indefinite suspension, Facebook has now also announced that it will remove all posts that include the phrase ‘stop the steal’ in the lead-up to the inauguration of incoming US President Joe Biden on January 20th.

As explained by Facebook:

“We are now removing content containing the phrase “stop the steal” under our Coordinating Harm policy from Facebook and Instagram. We removed the original Stop the Steal group in November and have continued to remove Pages, groups and events that violate any of our policies, including calls for violence. We’ve been allowing robust conversations related to the election outcome and that will continue. But with continued attempts to organise events against the outcome of the US presidential election that can lead to violence, and use of the term by those involved in Wednesday’s violence in DC, we’re taking this additional step in the lead up to the inauguration.”

Which makes sense. The Capitol riots served as a turning point, in many ways, as it showed that the discussion around political dissent on Facebook was more than just chatter, it actually lead to large scale civil unrest in response to the election result.

That’s why Trump’s accounts have also been suspended on Facebook and other platforms, because Trump’s constant campaigning against the election result, without evidence to support his claims, has fuelled his passionate supporter base, riling them up with baseless assertions of corruption and ‘theft’.

In addition to removing ‘stop the steal’ posts (which will likely see protestors adopt a new phrase instead), Facebook will also maintain its pause on all political ads in the US (which it implemented before the election), while it will also continue to label posts that contain misinformation about the election result.

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