In an unprecedented decision, Twitter permanently banned US President Donald Trump from their platform on charges of inciting violence. Many took this decision as an opposition to freedom of speech and many of his supporters chose to depart from the platform in solidarity with their leader.
As the #goodbyetwitter tag soared high, the search for another microblogging platform known as Parler increased. It should be noted that Parler is considered by conservatives as a more ‘free speech friendly’ social media platform as it is vastly populated with hardcore right-wing ideologists.
The dissatisfied Trump fans starting their exit from Twitter in the early hours of Saturday. Previously, the website had simply suspended Donald Trump from their platform following the rioting mobs at Capitol Hill in Washington DC. It was noted by the media that Trump’s tweets and public calls made on Twitter for fighting back and spreading disinformation about ‘vote steal’ had a direct impact on inciting these unruly mobs. Following the attempted siege, congressmen and women had to retreat to underground bunkers for their safety and at least 5 people died, including a uniformed police officer.
As a result, Twitter decided that suspension wasn’t enough. They permanently removed Trump from their platform.
This decision obviously didn’t go down well with his supporters. As their exodus started, Parler and Gab started getting more and more populated. Though it is unclear to say exactly how many Trump supporters have left Twitter so far.
Gab reported that they were getting around 10,000 new users per hour on Saturday. The rush to Parler was even greater and the servers crashed for a little while due to the mass increase in traffic. According to CNN, the app had been gaining popularity among conservatives even before the Trump ban as it allows for all kinds of posts without censorship. Twitter, on the other hand, has strict policies regarding violent speech, hate speech, and so on.
Additionally, in order to improve quality and remove violence, Twitter said it will be removing accounts with unverified user IDs. Following this decision, many Trump supporters claimed there was a sudden fall in their follower count. Most right-wing supporters create multiple unverified accounts in order to spread their message, which as a result of new Twitter policy might have been evicted.
While the right-wing Americans have been quoting their 1st amendment rights and called this de-platforming as a ‘Fascist’ move, many anti-Trump users reminded them that Twitter is a private company with their own rules and regulations.
Additionally, inciting violence and rioting are generally exceptions to freedom of speech.