Who did Twitter ban during the Trump era, and why?
With Elon Musk buying Twitter, there’s speculation that former President Trump and many of his allies could have their bans lifted.
During the Trump era, Twitter barred many on the far right, including extremist groups, from using the platform. A number of Trump supporters were kicked off for spreading falsehoods, inciting or advocating violence, “harmful activity” or other violations of Twitter rules.
De-platforming can limit the spread of harmful speech, including misinformation and disinformation, studies have shown. Amy Bruckman, a Georgia Tech professor of interactive computing and a lead author on one study, said that the prevalence of ideas spread by three far-right or conspiracy-theorist figures went down dramatically after their Twitter accounts were disabled. The “toxicity of their followers went down after they were kicked off,” she said.
If such figures were to be reinstated, Bruckman said, “the ideas come back and the toxicity of their followers comes back too.”
Musk has hinted in several tweets that he hopes to overhaul Twitter’s content moderation policy. “I invested in Twitter as I believe in its potential to be the platform for free speech around the globe, and I believe free speech is a societal imperative for a functioning democracy,” he wrote in a regulatory filing, adding that the company would not fulfill that potential “in its current form.”
The tech billionaire has not publicly committed to reinstating any banned user and has made no comments regarding Trump, who has said he has no plans to return to Twitter even if his access is restored.
Here is why Trump and others from his orbit were banned: