Trump’s account violates user policy, should  be  deactivated



Do a simple experiment. Speak to everyone solely using quotes from Mr. Trump’s Twitter and see how long it takes before no one will speak to you.

The utter absurdity of the proposal underlies precisely why suggestions that Twitter would be wrong to deactivate Trump’s account are, well, absurd.

To begin, let’s dispel  the notion of “censorship” being in play: it is equivocation to assume governmental actions and actions by private corporations are equally onerous or violating of civil rights.

In fact, at stake is the precise opposite: the right of organizations to deem certain speeches contrary to their purpose and thus exclude such speech, as enshrined in NAACP v. Alabama and subsequent cases.

If Twitter deemed Trump’s tweets as odious, frequenting in racism and purposefully spreading misinformation—thus damaging to the reputation of the company, the presidency and the government as a whole—then, on this basis, subsequently banning him would not be censorship but rather an expression of its rights.

It must be noted that the aims of Twitter’s policy on deactivating accounts is to prevent harassment and discrimination, both of which are central to Trump’s account.

Given that Trump’s tweets are odious, frequenting in racism and spreading misinformation, the decision seems obvious.

Twitter is a part of the media landscape, and the first duty of media is to protect the truth. No deference ought to be given to false claims solely because of the office the falsehoods originated from, and to suggest that the media must uncritically spread such claims is abhorrent to the purpose of media.

Given the inability of media to ignore the ramblings of the account, and the tendency of the account to obscure vital events such as his defrauding of thousands through Trump University, deactivating the account ensures that news of public interest is served instead of pontificating over the latest round of ill-considered 140 characters.

That’s without considering the material harm the account has already done to individuals and companies.

Consider, for example, the collapse of Boeing’s stock price when Trump incorrectly claimed it had a $4 billion contract with the government which he intended to cut.

Or consider that Megyn Kelly is still receiving death threats from Trump supporters as he continues to attack her on Twitter for the unmitigated gall of asking him a question.

Trump saying he would not tweet if the media covered him “fairly” is just an indication of how he believes the media should behave: subserviently to his desires, reduced to propaganda outlets.

The White House is a powerful bully pulpit, as Theodore Roosevelt taught us. But Roosevelt, an infinitely more principled man, understood that persuasion and propaganda were not equivalent. Expecting Twitter and the media to be platforms for demonstrably false claims and attacks on vital institutions in society is clearly the latter.

If he will not hold himself to the dignity of the office, then Twitter—along with any other institution—can and should deny him the dignity of the office. And that begins with refusing to be complicit in his counterfactual crusades.

Matthew Schilling is a senior economics, history and government major from Mitchell, S.D.

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