PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — With social media platforms like Twitter permanently banning the President, we are taking a look at the constitutionality of that decision.
For more than a decade, the @realdonaldtrump account connected him with his followers. During his presidency he used it, as he would say, to speak directly to the American people.
On Friday night, the President was permanently banned. Facebook and Instagram banned him indefinitely.
“It does set that important precedent that these companies are willing to step up to the plate and ban politicians from engaging in speech that will incite violence,” Pitt Associate Law Professor Jerry Dickinson said.
The President accused Twitter of silencing him.
Dickinson said Twitter’s actions do not violate the First Amendment of the Constitution.
He said it is a misconception that companies can’t control speech. They have to right to impose regulations.
“It’s just a constraint on the power of the government to infringe on your right to free speech. It does not apply to Twitter or Facebook,” Dickinson said.
Some critics have argued these actions should have been taken sooner to avoid Wednesday’s assault on the Capitol. Dickinson feels it may be a good time for companies to take at their policies.
“There is activity going on here in the United States that’s bubbling, and these online platforms are perpetuating and facilitating that,” he said over Zoom. “I expect in light of what we’ve just learned, many will be going back to the drawing board and rethink some of their editorial policies moving forward.”
Dickinson said there is gray area when it comes to this, but he says companies have to use their discretion and make sure online speech doesn’t get out of control or become dangerous.