There was a lot of song and dance over the weekend about US President Donald Trump being banned from Twitter. Some people claimed it was censorship, others thought it was way too late. But the endless galaxy brain takes that ‘Trump has been silenced’ have been very much undermined by the continued presence of Trump on the platform.
On Thursday morning Australian time, the official White House account tweeted out a five minute video of President
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) January 13, 2021
Shortly afterwards, the account retweeted out an extremely Trump tweet-like ‘statement from the President’, originally tweeted by White House Press Secretary Kayeligh McEnany.
.@POTUS: In light of reports of more demonstrations, I urge that there must be NO violence, NO lawbreaking and NO vandalism of any kind. That is not what I stand for, and it is not what America stands for. I call on ALL Americans to help ease tensions and calm tempers. Thank You. pic.twitter.com/mOOGZjqTLW
— Kayleigh McEnany (@PressSec) January 13, 2021
“In light of reports of more demonstrations, I urge that there must be NO violence, NO lawbreaking and NO vandalism of any kind. That is not what I stand for, and it is not what America stands for. I call on ALL Americans to help ease tensions and calm tempers. Thank You,” it read, with the standard capitalisations and prose you’d expect if it was typed by the former reality TV star himself.
Regardless of his ban and suspensions from various social media platforms, Trump is continuing to be heard through a pretty obvious loop-hole: by having his every utterance and move posted about by the rest of us.
Like how Spotify’s star signing Joe Rogan invited Alex Jones onto his show despite the latter’s ban from the platform, there’s nothing stopping someone else from just saying ‘Trump said XYZ’.
All this goes to say: the idea that banning Trump from Twitter would limit his free speech is obviously ridiculous.
Trump has a press briefing room within minutes of his office, and a press pack on call at a moment's notice. But sure, his political voice has been silenced. https://t.co/6QWzks2h0p
— Karen Sweeney (@karenlsweeney) January 13, 2021
That’s why it’s perhaps a touch preposterous that government MPs are lining up to demand the tech companies pledge to somehow stop them from “silencing free speech”, despite not having any real policy solution.
There is clearly widespread concern about how a handful of tech companies control the vast majority of speech online.
But if those who only raise concerns when their political bedfellow is affected and not when say, sex workers, anti-fascists, activists and protestors are booted or censored, it’s hard to believe that you’re really worried about freedom of speech — except when it applies to you, and those like you.