Big tech companies are clamping down on far-right accounts, personalities, and apps. On Friday, YouTube banned former Trump strategist Steve Bannon’s War Room podcast. Twitter permanently suspended President Donald Trump’s account late on Friday. The company also banned former national security adviser Michael Flynn and attorney Sidney Powell, two high-profile promoters of Qanon conspiracy theories who had aided Trump’s efforts to overturn the presidential election. Meanwhile, Apple is threatening to pull conservative social media site Parler from its app store unless Parler immediately institutes a moderation policy, according to a report from BuzzFeed News.
After close review of recent Tweets from the @realDonaldTrump account and the context around them we have permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence.https://t.co/CBpE1I6j8Y
— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) January 8, 2021
The purge comes days after a mob of Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol Building, clashing with law enforcement and leaving five people—including a Capitol police officer—dead. The mob, which shut down counting of the Electoral College vote for hours, was incited by months of false election fraud allegations promoted by Trump, Powell, and their allies. Trump spoke to the mob shortly before the violence and encouraged them to march to the Capitol.
The suspensions come after years of Trumpworld allies using social media to create alternate realities and outlandish conspiracy theories. Trump has used Twitter throughout his presidency to bypass the mainstream media and speak directly to his followers, once even bringing the United States to the brink of nuclear war with North Korea. It took an unprecedented siege of the Capitol for Twitter to finally act decisively, and only after Trump used the platform to repeat his election fraud lies and praise the insurrectionists, while half-heartedly telling them to go home.
YouTube, in particular, has been a hotbed of misinformation over the years. Experts have blamed it for the radicalization of disaffected viewers through algorithms that offer a continuous stream of incendiary content, as described by reporter Kevin Roose in his 2019 New York Times investigation. More recently, Bannon used the platform in November to call for the beheading of FBI director Christopher Wray and Anthony Fauci, the country’s top infectious disease expert who has often been at odds with Trump over the handling of the coronavirus pandemic.