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New York Times: Twitter Should Not Suspend Trump's Account

Image: New York Times: Twitter Should Not Suspend Trump's Account

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By    |   Wednesday, 14 Dec 2016 10:41 AM

The social media site Twitter has the right to suspend the account of incoming president Donald Trump, but it should not do so, according to an opinion piece by Farhad Manjoo, New York Times writer.

The Times noted that, after tweets by Trump, Carrier president Chuck Jones received threatening phone calls, and The Washington Post reported that a college student received obscene threats after Trump slammed her in a tweet.

The First Amendment protection of freedom of speech does not apply to Twitter, Manjoo wrote, saying the company is allowed to make its own rules for its service. Twitter has said that its policies apply to everyone who uses it, according to Slate.

Manjoo wrote that Trump appears to stay within the boundaries of the service’s code of conduct. Suspending Trump’s account would be censorship, and while Twitter is free to do so, Manjoo said that the site must consider the precedent it might set.

He said Twitter’s rules could lead to bans on political activists.

"The problem is not necessarily in what he's saying but that he's the president saying it," free speech advocate Jillian York of the Electronic Frontier Foundation told the Times. "If that sort of speech were censored for everyone, I would have a big problem with it. It would be very much a violation of the spirit of freedom of expression to not allow me to critique a union leader or a journalist or a president."

Twitter has an opportunity to make its rules against abuse clearer, Manjoo said, noting that racist, misogynistic, and anti-Semitic tweets have been common on the site.

Suspending the account of the president-elect would cause more problems than it solves, like when the site took action against some right-wing accounts, including the account belonging to white supremacist Richard Spencer, who led followers in a Nazi salute, saying "Heil Trump!"

Twitter's unclear rules were called into question again when Spencer’s account was reinstated. Buzzfeed reported that he was suspended for having multiple accounts, not for any abusive posting.

One benefit of Trump's Twitter account is a clear view of how the incoming president thinks, according to Ben Wizner of the American Civil Liberties Union.

"We're all learning very important things about Trump from the way he behaves through this unfiltered medium, so our discourse and our democracy would not benefit from removing that outlet for Trump, so that the only version of him we saw was one that was approved by his handlers," Wizner said.

Randi Lee Harper of the Online Abuse Prevention Initiative said that Trump’s tweets are not concerning.

"I don't know if he actually realizes what he's doing. He tweets like my racist grandpa would."

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The social media site Twitter has the right to suspend the account of incoming president Donald Trump, but it should not do so, according to an opinion piece by Farhad Manjoo, New York Times writer. The Times noted that, after tweets by Trump, Carrier president Chuck Jones...
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Wednesday, 14 Dec 2016 10:41 AM
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