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Can Facebook and Twitter ban the president?

Donald Trump
Posted at 4:45 PM, Jan 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-13 00:15:23-05

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Facebook and Twitter have suspended President Trump’s accounts, and some people are wondering if that violates his freedom of speech.

The First Amendment to the constitution is a buffer between the people and the government. It protects the freedom of religion, speech and the press, but not all kinds of speech are protected.

“Speech that incites imminent lawless action,” said Arizona State University Media Law Professor Joseph Russomanno. “Those are the exact words from our law and from a United States Supreme Court ruling.”

Russomanno says some scholars might disagree, but he thinks President Trump crossed a line with statements leading up to the Capitol riot.

“Count me among those who believe that the president violated that standard.”

Also, the First Amendment is only in place to keep the government from infringing on your rights. Private companies are not required to give anyone a platform.

“All of the major platforms, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter have formal policies in writing that every user whether they realize it or not agree to abide by.”

Some people argue social media has become too important a communication method to allow anyone to be silenced on it, but Russomanno says that is simply not the law as it stands right now.

“Do we want to bend our laws and our legal principles to accommodate our addiction to social media?”

Russomanno says the First Amendment protects both speech that you like and that you don’t like. President Trump can still use other forms of communication to get his message out.

“We take the good with the bad except when the bad crosses a line that we talked about inciting people to break the law and encouraging people to break the law.”