Twitter engaged in a game of whack-a-mole deleting tweets from Donald Trump off various accounts on its site, after permanently suspending the US president’s main account over fears his tweets could incite further violence in the Capitol.
It comes as Republicans loyal to the president decried the suspension as an assault on free speech, criticising Twitter for leaving unchecked the accounts of Chinese and Iranian officials.
Twitter said it suspended Mr Trump’s account because he violated their warnings about possible further incitement of violence with two tweets issued after a 12-hour block on his account was removed.
It deemed those tweets, including one in which Mr Trump said he would not attend Joe Biden’s inauguration, as “highly likely” to encourage others to replicate the “criminal acts” that took place at the Capitol on 6 January, when thousands of Mr Trump’s supporters raided the building. At least five people have died as a result.
Mr Trump took to the official @POTUS account to accuse Twitter of conspiring with his political enemies to silence him.
“Twitter has gone further and further in banning free speech, and tonight, Twitter employees have coordinated with the Democrats and the Radical Left in removing my account from their platform, to silence me – and YOU, the 75,000,000 great patriots who voted for me,” he said.
Twitter then deleted the series of four tweets, in which Mr Trump also raised the possibility of building his own “platform”.
The same tweets then appeared on the Trump campaign account @teamtrump, before that account was also deleted.
US political reporters also claimed Mr Trump may have tried to circumvent the ban with other accounts.
Mr Trump’s supporters slammed the social media giant for hypocrisy over the move, criticising why the accounts of others remained.
Republican senator Lindsey Graham vowed to act against legal protections for tech giants, saying the move was a “big mistake”.
Meanwhile, many of Mr Trump’s political adversaries, including Hillary Clinton, poked fun at the suspension.
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