Trump Twitter account just suspended — here's why

trump tweets removed
(Image credit: Alex Edelman/AFP vis Getty Images)

If you've ever wondered what it would take to make Twitter roll back Donald Trump's tweeting privileges, apparently the red line is inciting people to riot for the purposes of overturning an election.

Twitter announced that it was suspending President Trump's Twitter account for 12 hours, after it removed three incendiary tweets by the president.

The president's supporters descended upon the U.S. Capitol today (Jan. 6), as Congress was meeting to certify the results of last November's presidential election in which former vice president Joe Biden defeated Trump. 

The president has continued to dispute those results, even after repeated losses in multiple court cases that found no evidence of election irregularities.

Today, the president learned that Vice President Mike Pence would not reject Biden's Electoral College victory — a power that the vice president doesn't actually have. 

"Mike Pence didn't have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution," Trump said in a since-removed tweet. 

Shortly thereafter, pro-Trump supporters surged into the Capitol building, disrupting congressional business and forcing an hours-long lockdown.

Opponents of the president have long called on Twitter to take a more aggressive approach to the president's use of the social media site, arguing that Trump uses Twitter to spread disinformation and inflame his supporters. Some have even argued that Trump's Twitter account should be suspended, with those demands increasing as today's riot wore on. 

Twitter has resisted such calls in the past, arguing that the president's misstatements — even the demonstrably untrue ones — were in the public interest. Tweets from Trump containing incorrect information on election results and the coronavirus outbreak have recently been slapped with warning labels.

Twitter's special treatment of Trump may have come to an end today as the smoke cleared from the riot incited by the president's behavior. 

A tweet featuring a video in which the president repeated baseless claims of election fraud and told rioters that he loved them was removed by Twitter, as was a follow-up tweet in which the president called the rioters "great patriots" and urged them to "remember this day forever."

Previously, Twitter had slapped its customary warning labels on Trump's tweets and prevented other users from replying, retweeting or quote-tweeting them. However, Facebook deleted similar posts from the president on its site today, which may have forced Twitter's hand.

Social media have been a big part of Trump's messaging, even before he ran for president. In the closing days of his administration, it appears that those social media sites are beginning to take a firmer hand with how he conducts himself with their tools. Critics of the president may wonder if it's too little, too late.

Philip Michaels

Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.