As the formal inauguration of President Joe Biden comes to a close, Twitch makes a move. The site previously banned former US President Donald Trump following the deadly riot at the US Capitol building on Jan. 6. The riot was incited primarily by Trump and his Republican supporters spending months calling the question the validity of US elections, while also sending ominous threats and insults to media, Democrat politicians, and voters.
The influence of far-right politics within the Trump administration was hard to ignore for those paying attention, and it came to a head on January 6. An otherwise innocuous proceeding to count and certify electoral votes from the fifty US states became headline news the world over as Trump’s mobs stormed the Capitol building, all while both houses of Congress were inside. The attempted revolution left five people dead and more than 200 federal criminal investigations opened, including charges up to domestic terrorism.
And judging from some of the images captured on the day, there were very clear indications of violence being planned. One infamous image became known as “Zip Tie Guy”. The man was later identified as Eric Munchel. The photo showed Munchel possibly armed in the capitol building carrying flex cuffs. Many took this as a sign that the intent was to kidnap lawmakers and force a coup attempt. Munchel was later arrested after photos surfaced of him and his mother in DC after the riot wearing similar garb to the infamous photo.
This day will live in infamy for some time, and the chickens have come home to roost for social media platforms. For years, platforms like Twitter ignored the problem and refused to ban Trump, even as Twitter marked hundreds of Trump tweets as spreading threats of violence, as well as disinformation. That all changed in the days following the riot, when multiple platforms banned Trump and seized control of US government accounts, forcing a peaceful transfer of power to the newly elected Democrat Joe Biden.
Twitch also got in on the action, temporarily suspending Donald Trump’s official Twitch account to prevent further inciting of violence. That ban has now been made essentially permanent, as The account has been locked indefinitely. There will also be no option to appeal the ban, so the account has effectively been removed.
“We have indefinitely suspended President Trump’s Twitch channel due to the ongoing risk of further incitement of violence,” a Twitch spokesperson wrote in an email to The Verge.
The President’s statements continue to be interpreted as calls to action, and we are taking this action to remove the potential for harm to our community and the general public. Twitch has clear rules that prohibit hateful conduct, harassment, or incitement of violence on our service, and we consider off-service events when making enforcement decisions. However, the events of the past weeks have highlighted a gap with respect to rhetoric that encourages violence, regardless of whether or not it was directly streamed on Twitch. We will be updating our policies as a result of our consideration of this situation.
The account was banned prior to the Capitol attack as well. The account was also limited back in June 2020, following a fiery speech in which Trump made incredibly racist remarks in regards to immigrants to the United States. These remarks became one of the defining moments of his vitriolic “tough guy” campaign routine, which apparently tens of millions of Americans enjoyed enough to vote for him. I guess racism sells just as well as sex.