By FRANK BAJAK
BOSTON (AP) — One Twitter wag joked about lights flickering on and off at the White House being Donald Trump signaling to his followers in Morse code after Twitter and Facebook squelched the president for inciting rebellion.
Though deprived of his big online megaphones, Trump does have alternative options of much smaller reach, led by the far right-friendly Parler — even if Google and Apple both removed it from their app stores.
Trump may launch his own platform. But that won’t happen overnight, and free speech experts anticipate growing pressure on all social media platforms to curb incendiary speech as Americans take stock of Wednesday’s violent takeover of the U.S. Capitol by a Trump-incited mob.
Twitter ended Trump’s nearly 12-year run on Friday. In shuttering his account it cited a tweet to his 89 million followers that he planned to skip President-elect Joe Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration that it said gave rioters license to converge on Washington once again.
Facebook and Instagram have suspended Trump at least until Inauguration Day. Twitch and Snapchat also have disabled Trump’s accounts, while Shopify took down online stores affiliated with the president and Reddit removed a Trump subgroup. Twitter also banned Trump loyalists including former national security advisor Michael Flynn in a sweeping purge of accounts promoting the QAnon conspiracy theory and the Capitol insurrection. Some had hundreds of thousands of followers.
In a statement Friday, Trump said: “We have been negotiating with various other sites, and will have a big announcement soon, while we also look at the possibilities of building out our own platform in the near future.”
The “immense power that the social media platforms have as gatekeepers of public discourse” had been flexed as never before — a power that should be troubling even for supporters of the Trump ban, tweeted Jameel Jaffer, director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University.
Experts are betting Trump pops up on Parler, a 2-year-old magnet for the far right that claims more than 12 million users and where his sons Eric and Don Jr. are already active. Parler hit headwinds, though, on Friday as Google yanked its smartphone app from its app store for allowing postings that seek “to incite ongoing violence in the U.S.” Apple followed suit on Saturday evening after giving Parler 24 hours to address complaints it was being used to “plan and facilitate yet further illegal and dangerous activities.”
“Parler has not taken adequate measures to address the proliferation of these threats to people’s safety,” Apple said in a statement, saying it was removing the app “until they resolve these issues.”
Parler CEO John Matze complained on his site of being scapegoated. “Standards not applied to Twitter, Facebook or even Apple themselves, apply to Parler.” He said he “won’t cave to politically motivated companies and those…
Read More: Squelched by Twitter, Trump seeks new online megaphone – Orange County Register