Some Twitter employees have set their accounts to private and scrubbed their online biographies over concerns they may be targeted by supporters of President Trump, the New York Times reported. In addition, some Twitter executives have been assigned personal security as the company reckons with its decision to bar one of its loudest voices.
Trump’s @realDonaldTrump account was permanently suspended from Twitter January 8th, “due to the risk of further incitement of violence,” Twitter said in its statement. The president told supporters at a rally just before an attack on the Capitol January 6th they would “have to show strength,” and “fight much harder,” encouraging them to walk down to the Capitol. Trump tweeted that Vice President Mike Pence “didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done,” and later — while the attack was still ongoing— tweeted “we love you” to his supporters. The House of Representatives impeached Trump a second time on January 13th for “incitement of insurrection.”
According to the Times, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, who was working remotely from a private island the day the riot occurred, was not totally convinced a temporary ban on the president that day was the right decision. Twitter executives told Dorsey that the response to Trump’s tweets in the day after the riot suggested there was great potential for more real-world violence, ultimately leading to the permanent suspension.
More than 300 Twitter employees had signed an internal petition calling for a permanent Trump suspension, but according to the Times, the company had already decided at that point to ban the president. After Twitter announced its ban, Snapchat issued its own permanent ban, and Twitch and Facebook put indefinite bans on President Trump’s accounts. Facebook said in a statement explaining its decision, “The risks of allowing the President to continue to use our service… are simply too great.” In addition, Shopify took down Trump’s campaign store, a main source of sales of Make America Great Again hats and other merch.
In a tweet thread Wednesday, Dorsey said that banning Trump’s account was the right call. “Offline harm as a result of online speech is demonstrably real, and what drives our policy and enforcement above all,” he wrote, adding that Twitter should “look critically at inconsistencies of our policy and enforcement.”