According to a report at the Daily Beast, Donald Trump will leave office on January 20th and at that time he will lose some of the protections that kept Twitter from shutting down his widely-viewed account.
As Adam Rawnsley writes, as a public official the president enjoys some allowances that are not extended to average user that have allowed him to create posts that could be considered threatening at worst — or otherwise improper.
As it stands now — and Twitter’s rules have been evolving during the election season — Trump is covered under rules that “lets public officials’ rule-breaking tweets stay up with labels and exempts their accounts from suspension,” but that will end when he leaves office.
To avoid the threat of suspension or outright banning, the soon-to-be ex-president has a few hoops that he would have to jump through.
Foremost of all would be making official moves to remain a candidate for office– or keep up the pretense of running.
“Trump, associates are now telling reporters, is intent on running for president again in 2024 and could declare his candidacy as early as Joe Biden’s inauguration day. And Twitter’s public interest exception applies not just to office holders but to candidates, too. A candidate Trump is entitled to the same exception as a President Trump. But determining when Trump—or anyone else—becomes a candidate for president in the eyes of Twitter is tricky because the company hasn’t made clear what threshold it uses for considering an account holder a candidate,” the report states.
Noting that, “The first and fastest official step to becoming a candidate in the eyes of the federal government is filling out FEC Form 2, a statement of candidacy,” Rawnsley writes that that is not a fast and hard rule because Twitter’s rules are fairly ill-defined.
Writing, “The next step a candidate looking to run for president as the nominee of a party needs to go through is getting their name on a primary ballot,” the author notes that even that may not be protection for Trump as evidenced by two former GOP candidates who received lifetime bans.
“There is some precedent for the company booting a candidate once entitled to the public interest exception after their candidacy has ended. Twitter suspended DeAnna Lorraine Tesoriero, a MAGA relationship expert who ran a failed bid to unseat Nancy Pelosi, for her racist tweets last month. And once you’re gone, you’re gone for good. There’s no chance that a new candidacy could resurrect his old account or allow him to register another one,” the report states. “Florida conspiracy theorist and far-right activist Laura Loomer managed to get herself banned from Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, PayPal and even Uber Eats after a string of racist utterances and bizarre behavior. Loomer, who once chained herself to Twitter’s headquarters in a bid to get her account back, ran a doomed bid for Congress in Florida this year but Twitter nonetheless said it wouldn’t allow the newly anointed GOP candidate to open an account.”