It took a violent mob and five deaths in the US Parliament to make many realize that Trump’s troll armies are highly real. But also to let the elected president’s internet power collapse like a jenga tower.
First, Facebook and Twitter blocked Trump’s accounts temporarily. Then Apple threatened the right-wing Twitter alternative “Parler” with being kicked out of the App Store if they didn’t finally moderate the calls for violence from Trump fans. Eventually, Google kicked Parler out of the App Store without warning.
But the biggest clap of thunder was Twitter’s permanent banishment from Trump – he had once built his political brand on the platform as a real estate entrepreneur. President Donald Trump might never have happened without his @realdonaldtrump account.
You can hold back with the applause for Twitter. The decision to apply your own rules against “glorifying violence” right now is not very consistent. After all, Trump had previously driven the attack on the US Parliament on Twitter, among other things.
In addition, Facebook and Twitter know very well which party will occupy ministries and committee chairs in the future, pass new privacy laws and cite CEOs before Congress: the Democrats.
Twitter did the youth work for QAnon
Nevertheless, Trump’s expulsion is absolutely correct. The fact that platforms from the App Store to Twitter, from Reddit to Discord are moving with them, even gives hope that the “Make America Great Again”, MAGA and QAnon mob for short, will not find a new home so quickly, where it will continue to proliferate and more people with it infect his right-wing conspiracy mania. It is true that the most radical of them will use Internet forums that don’t need an app or Telegram, the messenger app that is popular among German crazy people.
But the further you chase QAnon and his company into the holes of the Internet, the fewer people will succumb to their conspiracy cult. Until recently, the YouTube algorithm or Twitter trends presented this content to ordinary people. In doing so, they dragged them into a spiral of confused theories that put into their head that they were hunting child murderers in the US Capitol instead of elected politicians.
The platforms did the youth work of these death cults and gave them their share of the advertising income. The future Trump Internet between the website “8kun” and the messenger service Telegram, on the other hand, could be similar to the Darknet – if you are looking for it, you will find it too. But most of them don’t look for it. Except for security agencies, which should have been watching the parallel world of the Trump Army long before the attack on the Capitol like a domestic terror network.
It is historically unique that the world’s largest Internet companies in a concerted action snatch his megaphone from the most powerful man in the world. The discussion of where the power of big tech ends is important.
But it’s one for another day. Trump has unleashed libertines, robbers and murderers on his political opponents and tried to remove the separation of powers with physical violence. He has forfeited his right to speak to millions with the help of Twitter.
Social networks need more consistent rules
Twitter and Facebook must now begin to apply their rules consistently and worldwide. The freedom of expression with which they have so far justified their lax dealings with Trump can certainly be the guiding principle.
A violent mob like Trump’s troll army has no opinion, it drives away other opinions and tries to silence them. Outside the US, this is even more true: When genocides were organized on social media in Myanmar or Sri Lanka, Twitter and Facebook reacted at first with disinterest and then much too late.
A social network that wants to promote healthy debate around the world should be proud of not offering a home to those who are violent. To do this, Twitter and Facebook must now consistently apply their rules – against everyone and everywhere in the world.
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