Twitter CEO on Banning Trump: Online Speech Can Cause Harm Offline

White supremacist Donald J. Trump speaks to the media before departing from Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland on January 12, 2021.

White supremacist Donald J. Trump speaks to the media before departing from Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland on January 12, 2021.
Image: Mandel Ngan (Getty Images)

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey finally gave this thoughts on Wednesday about the decision to ban President Donald Trump from the platform, explaining that the move wasn’t easy and that he takes no pride in banning anyone. But Dorsey acknowledged there can be real harm from speech that happens online and he believes permanently suspending Trump’s account was the right decision during a time of “great uncertainty” even if it sets a “dangerous” precedent.

“I do not celebrate or feel pride in our having to ban @realDonaldTrump from Twitter, or how we got here,” Dorsey tweeted Wednesday night in the first of a 12-tweet thread. “After a clear warning we’d take this action, we made a decision with the best information we had based on threats to physical safety both on and off Twitter. Was this correct?”

“I believe this was the right decision for Twitter,” Dorsey continued. We faced an extraordinary and untenable circumstance, forcing us to focus all of our actions on public safety. Offline harm as a result of online speech is demonstrably real, and what drives our policy and enforcement above all.”

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Trump still has the ability to post on the @POTUS account, as he did on Wednesday, releasing a video where he denounced violence in a general sense but still failed to concede that he lost the 2020 presidential election to Joe Biden. The president’s personal account was banned last week after he incited an insurrectionist mob to descend on the Capitol, killing five people.

Dorsey went on to say he believes every ban is somehow a failure of Twitter rather than an individual user. How so? The Twitter co-founder explained that he wants to “promote healthy conversation” and when that doesn’t happen he seems to take it personally.

“That said, having to ban an account has real and significant ramifications. While there are clear and obvious exceptions, I feel a ban is a failure of ours ultimately to promote healthy conversation. And a time for us to reflect on our operations and the environment around us,” wrote Dorsey.

Dorsey has previously received criticism for allowing extremist voices on his platform and Twitter’s rules have changed dramatically during the course of the Trump presidency. In 2016, when Trump was still running for office, the only things that might get you banned were targeted harassment, like when far-right troll Milo Yiannopolous was banned in July 2016 for unleashing a racist online mob on comedian Leslie Jones.

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Today, Twitter officially bans things like Holocaust denial and direct calls for violence, but there are still plenty of neo-Nazis on the platform. The social media company has resisted calls for it to ban white supremacists, white nationalists, and neo-Nazis.

“Having to take these actions fragment the public conversation,” Dorsey continued about the ban on Trump’s account. “They divide us. They limit the potential for clarification, redemption, and learning. And sets a precedent I feel is dangerous: the power an individual or corporation has over a part of the global public conversation.”

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That last part about a “dangerous” precedent has been seized upon by libertarians like journalist Glenn Greenwald, who believes so-called censorship by Big Tech is a larger threat to the world than a mob of violent fascists trying to take over the U.S. government.

Ultimately, Dorsey pointed out that if people don’t like Twitter’s rules, they’re free to go elsewhere.

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“The check and accountability on this power has always been the fact that a service like Twitter is one small part of the larger public conversation happening across the internet. If folks do not agree with our rules and enforcement, they can simply go to another internet service,” Dorsey wrote.

The Twitter co-founder then seemed to address the controversy over Parler, which has been booted from the Apple App Store, Google’s Android platform, and Amazon’s AWS hosting services for not moderating extremist content well enough. Parler has sued Amazon in federal court over the matter.

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“This concept was challenged last week when a number of foundational internet tool providers also decided not to host what they found dangerous. I do not believe this was coordinated. More likely: companies came to their own conclusions or were emboldened by the actions of others,” wrote Dorsey.

Dorsey even went on to suggest that the move by large tech companies to push out Parler would be bad, at least in the long term.

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“This moment in time might call for this dynamic, but over the long term it will be destructive to the noble purpose and ideals of the open internet. A company making a business decision to moderate itself is different from a government removing access, yet can feel much the same,” explained Dorsey.

“Yes, we all need to look critically at inconsistencies of our policy and enforcement. Yes, we need to look at how our service might incentivize distraction and harm. Yes, we need more transparency in our moderation operations. All this can’t erode a free and open global internet.”

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Dorsey, who’s reportedly worth roughly $13 billion, then took a weird turn in his thread, perhaps only as an extremely wealthy person can.

“The reason I have so much passion for #Bitcoin is largely because of the model it demonstrates: a foundational internet technology that is not controlled or influenced by any single individual or entity. This is what the internet wants to be, and over time, more of it will be,” Dorsey wrote.

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“We are trying to do our part by funding an initiative around an open decentralized standard for social media. Our goal is to be a client of that standard for the public conversation layer of the internet. We call it @bluesky,” Dorsey wrote, plugging an initiative he’s had in the works since late 2019.

“This will take time to build. We are in the process of interviewing and hiring folks, looking at both starting a standard from scratch or contributing to something that already exists. No matter the ultimate direction, we will do this work completely through public transparency.”

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Dorsey finished his thread by recognizing that it’s a difficult time in the world right now, something we can assume is at least partially a reference to the covid-19 pandemic that has killed at least 1.97 million people across the globe and sickened over 92.3 million, according to Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus tracker.

“It’s important that we acknowledge this is a time of great uncertainty and struggle for so many around the world. Our goal in this moment is to disarm as much as we can, and ensure we are all building towards a greater common understanding, and a more peaceful existence on earth,” wrote Dorsey.

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“I believe the internet and global public conversation is our best and most relevant method of achieving this. I also recognize it does not feel that way today. Everything we learn in this moment will better our effort, and push us to be what we are: one humanity working together.”

Amazon Court Filing Includes Chilling Death Threats Published on Parler

Congressional staffers barricade themselves after pro-Trump coup plotters stormed the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC on January 6, 2021.

Congressional staffers barricade themselves after pro-Trump coup plotters stormed the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC on January 6, 2021.
Photo: Olivier Douliery (Getty Images)

Amazon submitted a new filing in federal court on Tuesday in response to an emergency motion by Parler to restore its hosting services through Amazon’s AWS. Parler was kicked offline early Monday after Amazon said the social media company had violated its terms of service and Parler couldn’t find another company willing to do business. Parler sued Amazon on Monday alleging breach of contract and an antitrust violation.

But whatever you think of Amazon’s actions, the filing makes one thing absolutely clear: Parler was a cesspool of racist hate, insurrectionist appeals against the United States, and chillingly specific death threats.

The court filing, first reported by Seattle Times, lays out the ways in which Parler violated Amazon’s terms of service by using what Amazon calls a “hands-off approach” to moderating the content of its users. Amazon says it approached company leadership at Parler in mid-November 2020 and tried to get the social media service to address its problems.

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Parler was either unable or unwilling to properly police its content, which became increasingly worse after President Donald Trump lost the presidential election to Joe Biden. Users called for a new civil war and threatened the assassination of politicians like Stacey Abrams and tech company executives like Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.

All of the threats would be disturbing enough in isolation before the 2020 presidential election, but they’re even more terrifying in the wake of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. President Trump gave a speech that afternoon to an enormous crowd of supporters and told them to descend on the Capitol, where both houses of Congress were certifying electoral votes that will make Biden the president. Trump even promised to march down himself, something he didn’t do. Instead, he went back to the White House and watched the chaos on TV, a dizzying outburst of violence that left five people dead.

The threats Amazon filed as examples of extremist speech on Parler are below. All redactions and censoring of words appears in the original court filing.

  • “Fry’em up. The whole fkn crew. #pelosi #aoc #thesquad #soros #gates #chuckschumer #hrc #obama #adamschiff #blm #antifa we are coming for you and you will know it.”
  • “#JackDorsey … you will die a bloody death alongside Mark Suckerturd [Zuckerberg]…. It has been decided and plans are being put in place. Remember the photographs inside your home while you slept? Yes, that close. You will die a sudden death!”
  • “We are going to fight in a civil War on Jan.20th, Form MILITIAS now and acquire targets.”
  • “On January 20th we need to start systematicly [sic] assassinating [sic] #liberal leaders, liberal activists, #blm leaders and supporters, members of the #nba #nfl #mlb #nhl #mainstreammedia anchors and correspondents and #antifa. I already have a news worthy event planned.”
  • “Shoot the police that protect these shitbag senators right in the head then make the senator grovel a bit before capping they ass.”
  • “After the firing squads are done with the politicians the teachers are next.”
  • “Death to @zuckerberg @realjeffbezos @jackdorsey @pichai.”
  • “White people need to ignite their racial identity and rain down suffering and death like a hurricane upon zionists.”
  • “Put a target on these motherless trash [Antifa] they aren’t human taking one out would be like stepping on a roach no different.”
  • “We need to act like our forefathers did Kill [Black and Jewish people] all Leave no victims or survivors.”
  • “We are coming with our list we know where you live we know who you are and we are coming for you and it starts on the 6th civil war… Lol if you will think it’s a joke… Enjoy your last few days you have.”
  • “This bitch [Stacey Abrams] will be good target practice for our beginners.”
  • “This cu** [United States Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao] should be… hung for betraying their country.”
  • “Hang this mofo [Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger] today.”
  • “HANG THAt N***** ASAP”

Gizmodo reported on Tuesday that Parler users were among the many insurrectionists that gained access to the Capitol during the siege—an attack we now know was even worse than what we saw on TV last week.

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Several members of Congress have suggested that some of their Republican colleagues were actively helping the mob that tore into the Capitol and some police officers who were friendly with the protesters—even taking selfies and directing them where certain offices were—are being investigated. One congresswoman, Rep. Mikie Sherill of New Jersey, says she saw Republican members of Congress giving tours on Jan. 5, which she says was “reconnaissance for the next day.”

A report from the Boston Globe claims that panic buttons inside the office of Democratic Rep. Ayanna Pressley had been “torn out” when they went to look for them while sheltering on Jan. 6. There’s also substantial evidence that Rep. Andrew Biggs of Arizona, Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona, and Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama, all Republicans, helped rally support for the assault on the Capitol, according to an investigation from the Intercept.

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Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said quite plainly during an Instagram Live overnight that she believed she was going to die on Jan. 6 and didn’t trust some of her Republican colleagues who were likely to disclose her location. AOC also said she didn’t know whether to trust Capitol Police, given the things she was seeing.

“This is how democracy can burn. It is fragile,” Ocasio-Cortez told viewers while calling out Republicans who enabled the riot. “We must cherish it. And they didn’t. And they don’t. So they need to leave. Donald Trump needs to leave. Ted Cruz needs to leave. Josh Hawley needs to get out. They need to get out.”

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It’s going to be a tough road ahead, with roughly 16 groups applying to stage protests in Washington D.C. over the next week, according to the New York Times. Those groups, many of which are reportedly planning on being armed, can no longer openly plan on platforms like Parler, but some have found new digital homes already and are almost certainly planning another coup.

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President Trump, a threat to the safety and security of the U.S. since the day he took office in 2017, could make the threat go away if he told his supporters to stand down. But even if he were backed into a corner and forced to denounce a violent overthrow of the democratically elected U.S. government, he’d find a way to hedge. Trump didn’t tell the Proud Boys to stand down, he told them to “stand back and stand by.”

YouTube Deletes Latest Trump Video, Suspends Account Through Inauguration Day

President Donald Trump, a white supremacist and traitor to the United States, turns to reporters as he exits the White House on January 12, 2021.

President Donald Trump, a white supremacist and traitor to the United States, turns to reporters as he exits the White House on January 12, 2021.
Photo: Drew Angerer (Getty Images)

YouTube has deleted President Donald Trump’s latest video over concerns that it could inspire violence, the video sharing site announced late Tuesday. Comments are being blocked on all of the president’s remaining videos and his account has been suspended for at least the next seven days. Notably, the inauguration of president-elect Joe Biden is seven days away.

“After review, and in light of concerns about the ongoing potential for violence, we removed new content uploaded to Donald J. Trump’s channel for violating our policies,” YouTube announced on Twitter. “It now has its 1st strike & is temporarily prevented from uploading new content for a *minimum* of 7 days.”

“Given the ongoing concerns about violence, we will also be indefinitely disabling comments on President Trump’s channel, as we’ve done to other channels where there are safety concerns found in the comments section,” YouTube continued.

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Trump’s suspension on YouTube follows other major social media platforms banning the president outright, including Twitter and Facebook. The tech companies booted Trump only after he incited a coup attempt at the nation’s Capitol on Jan. 6 that left five people dead, including a Capitol police officer.

The video that was removed from Trump’s account on Tuesday was a clip from C-SPAN showing the president talking to reporters while departing the White House on his way to Texas. The video was being actively dissected in the YouTube comments section by Trump followers who seemed to believe it was a message to commit more violence. The commenters were particularly fixated on Trump’s phrases, “there is always a countermove,” and “our journey is just beginning.”

President Trump refused to take responsibility for the insurrection he incited last week and said Tuesday that a move to impeach him is inspiring more “anger” among his supporters. At least five House Republicans, including Republican Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, have now broken ranks and have said they’ll support impeachment.

Capitol Police warned House Democrats on Monday there are at least three worst-case scenarios they’re planning for in the coming days leading up to Joe Biden’s inauguration, including one plan to encircle the White House to “protect” Trump. Other plans reportedly include a plot to assassinate Democratic members of Congress as well as any Republicans who don’t support the president, according to HuffPost.

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Disturbingly, it appears at least three Republican members of Congress were intimately involved in plans to descend on the Capitol, according to reporting from the Intercept, including Rep. Andrew Biggs of Arizona, Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona, and Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama.

Some members of Congress even refused to go through metal detectors on Tuesday, a concern not just for the immediate safety of the U.S. Capitol building but for the Jan. 20 inauguration, when armed insurrectionists are expected to arrive. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a QAnon supporter and Trump neo-fascist, refused to have her bag inspected after she set off the metal detectors and wore a mask on the House floor that reads, “Molon Labe,” which means “come and take it.” The phrase is popular with gun-obsessed Republicans and is a clear call to violence.

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Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) yells at journalists after setting off the metal detector outside the doors to the House of Representatives Chamber on January 12, 2021 in Washington, DC.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) yells at journalists after setting off the metal detector outside the doors to the House of Representatives Chamber on January 12, 2021 in Washington, DC.
Photo: Chip Somodevilla (Getty Images)

Gizmodo reached out to YouTube about more details on Trump’s suspension from the platform but the company declined to explain anything more on the record.

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Facebook Warns Employees Not to Wear Company Gear In Public After Banning Trump

File photo of a Facebook employee wearing a t-shirt with a Facebook logo

File photo of a Facebook employee wearing a t-shirt with a Facebook logo
Photo: Sean Gallup (Getty Images)

Facebook’s internal security team has warned employees not to wear or carry any Facebook-branded gear in public, according to a new report from tech news site the Information. The warning comes after the social media giant banned President Donald Trump from the platform following a violent coup attempt by his followers at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

“In light of recent events, and to err on the side of caution, global security is encouraging everyone to avoid wearing or carrying Facebook-branded items at this time,” the memo said without apparently mentioning Trump by name. The warning was posted to an internal message board to company employees and reviewed by the Information.

While the memo doesn’t appear to explicitly say Facebook employees are at risk of physical assault by Trump supporters, it’s easy to read between the lines. The president’s neo-fascist followers are some of the most unhinged people on the planet and after their siege on the Capitol last week, which left five people dead, law enforcement authorities are warning about the potential for more violence in the coming days and weeks.

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ABC News reports that pro-Trump rallies have been planned at all 50 state capitols and the FBI has issued a warning about the likelihood of violence in order to allow state governments to get ready. HuffPost also has a new report about three “protests” being planned around Washington D.C., which allegedly includes a scheme to encircle the White House to “protect” President Trump. Democrats in the U.S. House were warned about the plans on Monday, which may even include a plot to kill politicians.

From HuffPost:

Democrats were told that the Capitol Police and the National Guard were preparing for potentially tens of thousands of armed protesters coming to Washington and were establishing rules of engagement for warfare. In general, the military and police don’t plan to shoot anyone until one of the rioters fires, but there could be exceptions.

Lawmakers were told that the plot to encircle the Capitol also included plans to surround the White House ― so that no one could harm Trump ― and the Supreme Court, simply to shut down the courts. The plan to surround the Capitol includes assassinating Democrats as well as Republicans who didn’t support Trump’s effort to overturn the election ― and allowing other Republicans to enter the building and control government.

It’s no surprise that social media companies are worried about backlash from Trump’s cadre of dangerous extremists. Though one can’t help but wonder where we’d be today had companies like Facebook and Twitter taken Trump’s authoritarian language more seriously over the past four years.

These social media platforms allowed Trump to use racial slurs like “Pocahontas” to refer to Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren, they let him encourage his followers to commit felonies by voting twice, and they even sat by as he threatened nuclear war against North Korea—before he became besties with Kim Jong Un, of course.

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Facebook and Twitter may have done the right thing by banning Trump after the Capitol coup attempt, but it’s way too late to call leadership at these companies anything but complicit in the damage Trump has done to the country. There would very likely be no Trump presidency without Twitter and Facebook.

Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment early Tuesday. We’ll update this post if we hear back, but only if they tell the truth, something that Facebook executives like Sheryl Sandburg still seem to struggle with on a daily basis.

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Two House Democrats Test Positive For Covid-19 After Coup Attempt at Capitol

Neo-fascist supporters of President Donald Trump enter the US Capitol’s Rotunda on January 6, 2021, in Washington, D.C.

Neo-fascist supporters of President Donald Trump enter the US Capitol’s Rotunda on January 6, 2021, in Washington, D.C.
Photo: Saul Loeb (Getty Images)

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, a Democrat from Washington, has tested positive for covid-19 after being forced to shelter in a secure location at the U.S. Capitol during last week’s coup attempt by loyalists of President Donald Trump. Jayapal is the second member of Congress to announce she has covid-19 after every member of the House, Democrat and Republican alike, retreated to a fortified room together as Trump supporters violently stormed the building, leaving five people dead.

The news from Jayapal comes after Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey, also a Democrat, announced on Monday that she tested positive for covid-19, likely becoming infected while they were forced to hide from the violent mob of insurrectionists. Several Republicans refused to wear a mask at their secure location, which endangered everyone in the room according to Jayapal and videos posted online.

“Too many Republicans have refused to take this pandemic and virus seriously, and in doing so, they endanger everyone around them,” Rep. Jayapal said in a statement posted to her congressional website.

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“Only hours after President Trump incited a deadly assault on our Capitol, our country, and our democracy, many Republicans still refused to take the bare minimum COVID-19 precaution and simply wear a damn mask in a crowded room during a pandemic — creating a superspreader event on top of a domestic terrorist attack,” said Congresswoman Jayapal.

Members of Congress received a notice from the head physician at the U.S. House on Jan. 10 warning them that they may have been exposed to covid-19 while taking shelter on Jan. 6. The coronavirus has an average incubation period of 4-5 days, according to the CDC, but some people may not test positive for as long as two weeks after they’ve been infected.

Video posted to Twitter shows Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, a Democrat from Delaware, offering masks to multiple fellow members of Congress while they were in their secure location. The Republicans, including Rep. Markwayne Mullin from Oklahoma, Rep. Andy Biggs from Arizona, Rep. Scott Perry from California, Rep. Michael Cloud from Texas, and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene from Georgia, all appear to decline the free masks.

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Rep. Jayapal would like to see any member of Congress hit with fines if they refuse to wear a mask around their colleagues, a perfectly reasonable and, some would say, modest solution to the problem.

“I am also calling for serious fines to be immediately levied on every single Member who refuses to wear a mask in the Capitol,” Jayapal said in a statement.

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“Additionally, any Member who refuses to wear a mask should be immediately removed from the floor by the Sergeant at Arms. This is not a joke. Our lives and our livelihoods are at risk, and anyone who refuses to wear a mask should be fully held accountable for endangering our lives because of their selfish idiocy.”

Precisely 147 Republican members of the House and four Republican senators still voted against certification of the electoral count that made Joe Biden the winner, even after the coup attempt—every single one a traitor to the United States.

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The U.S. has reported at least 22.6 million cases and over 376,000 deaths since the pandemic began roughly a year ago. The country saw over 193,000 cases and 1,739 deaths on Monday alone, based on a tally by the Covid Tracking Project, with hospitals throughout the nation still struggling with capacity in their ICUs.

U.S. law enforcement agencies are preparing for even more violence in the coming days, as neo-fascist loyalists to President Trump continue to plan “protests” around the country. Capitol Police gave congressional Democrats a briefing about three new plans by Trump supporters to stoke violence on Monday, according to HuffPost, including a plot to assassinate politicians.

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Not only do Democratic politicians have to worry about violent neo-fascists storming the Capitol, they also have to be concerned with their own coworkers spreading a potentially lethal virus during a pandemic. Republicanism is little more than a death cult at this point.

San Francisco Prepares For Potential Pro-Trump Protest at Twitter HQ on Monday

Illustration for article titled San Francisco Prepares For Potential Pro-Trump Protest at Twitter HQ on Monday

Photo: Jeff Chiu (AP)

San Francisco police are preparing for a potential pro-Trump protest at Twitter’s headquarters on Monday morning, despite the fact that most Twitter employees are currently working from home due to the covid-19 pandemic. The protest, which is being organized online at the website TheDonald.win and in private Facebook groups, was sparked by President Trump’s recent ban from the social media platform.

San Francisco PD declined to give information about how many people are expected at the protest and it’s unclear whether authorities expect the kind of violence that Trump’s neo-fascist supporters are known for, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, the first outlet to report the news.

“The San Francisco Police Department is aware of the possibility of a demonstration on the 1300 block of Market Street (Twitter) tomorrow, Monday January 11, 2021. SFPD has been in contact with representatives from Twitter. We will have sufficient resources available to respond to any demonstrations as well as calls for service citywide,” the police department told Techcrunch late Sunday.

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“The San Francisco Police Department is committed to facilitating the public’s right to First Amendment expressions of free speech. We ask that everyone exercising their First Amendment rights be considerate, respectful, and mindful of the safety of others.”

Commenters on the pro-Trump site TheDonald.win encouraged protesters to bring megaphones, eye protection, and “BIG zip ties” to “citizen arrest violent agitators” and “ANTIFA.” Users on the site, which used to be hosted by Reddit before it was banned, also encouraged protesters to wear masks to avoid being identified.

President Trump was permanently banned from Twitter after he incited a mob of his followers to storm the U.S. Capitol on January 6, the day that Congress was attempting to certify the presidential election results for Joe Biden. Five people, including a Capitol police officer, were killed in the chaos. A second officer who defended the capitol later died by suicide, though it’s not clear if his decision to end his life had anything to do with the coup attempt.

Zip ties were also seen at the January 6 coup attempt, where multiple news organizations have reported Trump’s goons likely wanted to take hostages and execute politicians. One man who brought zip ties to the Capitol last week, identified as Eric Gavelek Munchel, was arrested by the FBI on Sunday, according to BuzzFeed News, though he’s only being charged with disorderly conduct, entering a restricted building, and “violent entry.”

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It’s unlikely that many Twitter employees will be at the San Francisco headquarters given the covid-19 pandemic, but many users on TheDonald.win expressed a desire to lash out at Twitter in public over Trump’s ban.

This time identify and zip tie the Antifa infiltrators please,” one user wrote.

Get in there [sic] faces, be rude, make them squirm,” another said.

The time to be nice ended today. That didn’t work,” a user concurred.

Maybe the hq should be burned down when everyone goes home,” another poster said.

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One user who noted that most employees would be at home and far away from Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters encouraged potential protesters to stage something at CEO Jack Dorsey’s house, but there’s no guarantee that Dorsey is even home right now. The Twitter cofounder was overseas in French Polynesia when the decision to finally ban Trump finally came down, according to the New York Times.

Trump is expected to make some kind of announcement on Monday about his ban from social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, though the White House hasn’t released a time. Obviously the president doesn’t need a social media account to reach the masses and can step in front of a camera anytime he likes, but Trump cultivated his following on Twitter long before he took office and probably sees it as a personal insult.

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The potential for violence is always present at a pro-Trump event, but things seem especially dangerous now that Trump has been as explicit as possible about wanting his supporters to rise up against the democratically elected president who’s scheduled to take office on January 20. Trump had previously taken a “wink wink, nudge nudge” approach to inciting violence in his name, but his followers are clearly too dumb to pick up on subtlety.

Trump finally told the amassed crowd on January 6 that he would lead the march to the Capitol, something he didn’t do, but it got his dumbass voters to finally stage the violence he was clearly looking for. The only question remains is whether he can try to do it again.

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Parler Forced Offline After Amazon Pulls Hosting Services

Illustration for article titled Parler Forced Offline After Amazon Pulls Hosting Services

Screenshot: Fox News

Parler has gone offline after Amazon made good on its promise to drop the controversial social media site from its AWS web hosting services. Amazon pulled the plug at 11:59 p.m. Pacific time, saying that Parler wasn’t properly moderating its content and the violence being called for on the site posed “a very real risk to public safety.”

Parler CEO John Matze announced on his site early Monday that service would likely be interrupted for a while and he called Parler his “last stand on the internet.”

“I wanted to send everyone on Parler an update. We will likely be down longer than expected,” Matze wrote early Monday. “This is not due to software restrictions—we have our software and everyone’s data ready to go. Rather it’s that Amazon’s, Google’s and Apple’s statements to the press about dropping our access has caused most of our other vendors to drop their support for us as well.”

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Matze, a self-described libertarian, said on Sunday that absolutely nobody wants to do business with him and that large tech companies like Apple and Amazon are colluding to “stifle free speech” by booting Parler from their platforms.

“Every vendor, from text message services to email providers to our lawyers, all ditched us on the same day,” Marze whined to Maria Bartiromo on Sunday during a phone interview on Fox News.

Parler shot to the top of the Apple App store on Saturday after President Donald Trump was permanently banned from Twitter, leading his neo-fascist followers to look for an alternative social media site. Trump gave a speech on January 6 that incited a riot at the U.S. Capitol, leaving five people dead, and Twitter said it banned Trump to reduce the likelihood of the president inspiring more violence.

But Parler faced new pressure in the wake of the attempted coup at the Capitol to crack down on extremist calls to violence, something that Apple gave the service 24 hours to do before it was pulled on Sunday.

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“Well, like I said, they claim that we somehow were responsible for the, you know, what they call the insurrection on the sixth, which, you know, we’ve never allowed violent…. we’ve never allowed any of this stuff on our platforms,” Matze said.

You know, we’ve never allowed any of this stuff on our platform. And we don’t even have a way to coordinate an event on our platform, so they somehow want to make us responsible.”

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To be clear, Apple has never blamed Parler for the violence that took place on January 6. The company, like dozens of others, was just jolted awake to the fact that allowing pro-fascist speech on its platforms might literally inspire a coup and bring down duly elected leaders of the U.S. government, such as president-elect Joe Biden.

Bartiromo went into a weird tangent on Trump’s attempt to legislatively destroy Section 230, something that Matze previously opposed. But Matze now says he thinks Section 230 should be abolished, a weird position for someone who’s tasked with moderating a website where he could potentially be held criminally liable without Section 230.

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Matze also touched on Amazon’s threats to boot Parler on Sunday, complaining that he didn’t have enough time to find alternative hosting.

Amazon is the largest cloud storage vendor in the world, and we use them to host our servers, you know, hundreds of them, hundreds of servers. And they gave us… basically they said you have 24 hours to get all of your data and to find new servers,” Matze told Bartiromo.

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“So, you know, where are you going to find 300 to 500 servers in the 24 hour window, and how can you send all of the data from everybody out to them in a 24 hour period? It’s an impossible feat. You know, we’re going to handle the best we can to get back online as quickly as possible. But, you know, this is… there’s just some things that are almost basically impossible.”

What kind of content will people now miss with Parler offline? One video that was popular before the site went offline was made by a QAnon adherent who cut together old Trump soundbites to make all subtext an explicitly neo-fascist text.

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“January 20th will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again,” the video shows Trump saying, with splashly graphics with things like “the hour has arrived.”

Oddly enough, that’s a real thing that Trump said, but it was from his infamous first inauguration on January 20, 2017. The video ended with a graphic of the United States with the date January 20, 2021 and the QAnon slogan WWG1WGA, which stands for Where We Go One, We Go All.

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There was also content on Parler like this message from Milo Yiannopoulos, a far right troll who was booted from Twitter in 2016 for harassment.

Illustration for article titled Parler Forced Offline After Amazon Pulls Hosting Services

Screenshot: Parler

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Parler is partially owned by Fox News personality Dan Bongino, a fact that was never mentioned during Matze’s interview with Bartiromo on Sunday. Parler has also taken money from Rebekah Mercer, a far right financier of pro-Trump radicalism. Mercer is also the daughter of Robert Mercer, a cofounder of Cambridge Analytica.

While Matze’s company is clearly fighting for its life, Parler is also likely struggling from poor management. You see, Matze isn’t the brightest bulb, as they say. When Matze described how he was feeling on Sunday, he summed it up nicely.

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“It’s not just frightening, it’s actually extremely scary,” said Matze.

Correction: This article originally included a typo in QAnon’s slogan. The real slogan is “Where We Go One, We Go All” not “Where We Go One, We Do All,” a much more fun sounding slogan if we’re being honest. Gizmodo regrets the error.

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Senator Says Computer Stolen From Capitol Office During Coup Attempt by Trump Loyalists

Overturned furniture and broken glass litter a hallway of the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on January 7, 2021, one day after supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump stormed the building.

Overturned furniture and broken glass litter a hallway of the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on January 7, 2021, one day after supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump stormed the building.
Photo: Nicholas Kamm (Getty Images)

A laptop computer belonging to the office of U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley from Oregon was one of several electronic devices stolen by Trump loyalists during a failed coup attempt on Wednesday, according to a new report from Politico. The news comes as the Department of Justice tries to make an assessment of the property stolen at the U.S. Capitol, which is believed to potentially include at least some sensitive national security information.

Lawmakers were forced to evacuate their offices quickly on Wednesday after President Donald Trump incited a riot, claiming that he would march with his followers down to the U.S. Capitol, where Congress was counting the electoral votes to certify Joe Biden as the next president. Trump did not join his followers, instead going back to the White House to watch the mayhem on TV.

Trump loyalists stormed the Capitol, beating security forces and breaking windows to gain entry. One insurrectionist was killed by U.S. Capitol police in the melee, but most rioters were able to roam freely in the Capitol, including inside of several Senate offices.

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One security official even gave the invading traitors directions to Senator Chuck Schumer’s office, according to a new report from the New York Times:

Aaron, the construction worker from Indianapolis, and his two friends had heard people talking about going to Ms. Pelosi’s office. So once inside they decided to instead find Senator Chuck Schumer’s office. Both are Democrats.

“We wanted to have a few words” with Mr. Schumer, he said. “He’s probably the most corrupt guy up here. You don’t hear too much about him. But he’s slimy. You can just see it.”

But they could not find Mr. Schumer’s office. He said they asked a Capitol Police officer, who tried to direct them. But they appeared to have gotten nowhere near the minority’s leader’s office. They ended up smoking a few cigarettes inside the building — “We can smoke in our house,” Aaron said — and one of his friends, who would not give his name, joked that he had gone to the bathroom and not flushed.

Viral videos and photos from Wednesday showed people stealing things from Congressional offices, and one photo showed Nancy Pelosi’s computer open and accessible with emails.

The Chief Administrative Officer of the House sent an email out Thursday insisting that there are “no indications” that the House network has been compromised, but they’re continuing to monitor the situation. The office is also advising members of Congress to do a full accounting of their IT equipment and not to use any removable media device that may have been available to the insurrectionists. The concern, of course, is that USB devices may have been compromised in a way that can grant outsiders access even after the intruders left.

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There’s also the concern that listening devices could have been planted in different offices at the U.S. Capitol, according to Democrats who are trying to pick up the pieces.

“We have to do a full review of what was taken, or copied, or even left behind in terms of bugs and listening devices, etc.,” Rep. Ruben Gallego, a Democrat from Arizona, told Politico.

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The neo-Nazi social media figure known as Baked Alaska livestreamed his intrusions at the Capitol on Wednesday, but he and several others who were easily identifiable have not been arrested yet.

President Trump has always been a threat to U.S. national security ever since he was sworn in on January 20, 2017. But we may not have a full accounting of the damage done to U.S. interests for generations if we can’t understand precisely what was taken during the raid on the Capitol on Wednesday.

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FCC Chairman Quietly Abandoned Attempt to ‘Clarify’ Section 230

Illustration for article titled FCC Chairman Quietly Abandoned Attempt to Clarify Section 230

Photo: Alex Wong (Getty Images)

Approximately 5 million years ago back in October, Federal Communications Chairman Ajit Pai vowed to “move forward with a rulemaking” to “clarify” Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a key legal shield that protects online platforms from liability for certain types of content posted by users. However, apparently he quietly let the clock run out on those plans.

Now, less than three months later, Pai says he no longer plans to follow through because, wouldn’t you know it, he’s just too short on time. Drats. (Pai’s stepping down from the agency on Jan. 20 before the incoming Biden administration can give him the boot).

“I do not intend to move forward with the notice of proposed rule-making at the FCC,” he told Protocol on Thursday, explaining that “there’s simply not sufficient time to complete the administrative steps necessary in order to resolve the rule-making.”

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Of course, he may also have let these plans fall through the cracks because the FCC didn’t have the legal authority to follow through with them in the first place.

A senseless executive order on social media that President Donald Trump issued in September tasked the FCC with reining in Section 230 and investigating websites such as Facebook, Twitter, Google, and YouTube to suss out supposed anti-conservative bias. Trump’s demands came after an explosive tantrum—even for him—about social media platforms fact-checking his posts.

If carried out, this reinterpretation of Section 230 threatened to break the internet in all kinds of ways. At least in theory. Namely, it would essentially set up the Republican-controlled FCC to strip Section 230 liability protections from whatever platforms Trump thought were discriminating against conservatives, thus leaving those platforms vulnerable to litigation for moderating content posted by users. The thing of it is, the FCC simply doesn’t have the power to A) regulate the internet to that extent or B) rewrite federal legislation willy nilly.

It’s worth mentioning that with Democrats now in control of the Senate, President-elect Joe Biden stands poised to fast track his nomination for the FCC’s next chairman and potentially reverse Pai’s most controversial policy decision: killing net neutrality protections that kept internet service providers from limiting access to online content or charging more to use certain sites.

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Pai’s remarks came during an interview on C-SPAN’s “The Communicators” set to air this weekend in which the chairman also heavily condemned Wednesday’s insurrection attempt in D.C. that left at least four people dead. He called the violent scene that erupted on Capitol Hill “outrageous and extremely disappointing to those of us who cherish American democracy.”

And while Pai has largely refrained from publicly commenting on the president’s antics during his tenure, he rebuked Trump for spreading baseless election conspiracy theories that should not have been “indulged.”

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“I think it was a terrible mistake to suggest that the results of the election, and particularly the process that culminated yesterday in the Senate and the House, could in any way be changed,” he said. “That was a terrible mistake and one that I do not think in any way should have been indulged.”

[Protocol]

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American Airlines Bans Alcohol on Flights Out of D.C. After Trump Loyalists Attempt Coup

A Trump supporter with zip ties in the Senate Chamber on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC.

A Trump supporter with zip ties in the Senate Chamber on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC.
Photo: Win McNamee (Getty Images)

American Airlines announced early Thursday that it would no longer be serving alcohol on flights out of Washington D.C., after videos went viral of passengers being verbally abusive on flights into Washington for President Trump’s neo-fascist rally. The alcohol ban is one of many precautionary measures being taken by the airline after loyalists to Trump occupied the Capitol for hours on Wednesday in an attempted coup that left at least four people dead.

“At American, safety is our highest priority. We are working closely with local law enforcement and airport authority partners to ensure the safety of our customers and team members on the ground and in the air,” the airline said in a statement to Axios early Thursday.

During one of the disruptive American Airlines flights from Texas, Trump supporters projected video on the airplane cabin’s ceiling. One person in the video speaks about an anti-Trump passenger by saying, “These are the guys we came to fucking wipe out.”

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Another video shows several passengers on a Delta flight from Utah shouting “traitor” and “resign” at Senator Mitt Romney, though it’s not clear alcohol was involved in fueling either incident.

The announcement from American Air comes after the largest flight attendant union in the U.S. announced late Wednesday that it wanted to ban violent Trump loyalists from flights out of Washington.

“The mob mentality behavior that took place on several flights to the D.C. area yesterday was unacceptable and threatened the safety and security of every single person onboard. It will not happen again,” Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA) International, said in a statement Wednesday night.

“Their violent and seditious actions at the Capitol today create further concern about their departure from the DC area. Acts against our democracy, our government and the freedom we claim as Americans must disqualify these individuals from the freedom of flight.”

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Another union, the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, encouraged its own members to “maintain situational awareness” in the short term as problems may arise from the political instability driven by Trump.

“Remain extra vigilant on flights departing from the Washington, D.C. area for the next few days, and involve your fellow crewmembers if you have safety concerns,” the union said, according to CNN.

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President Trump made an unhinged speech Wednesday afternoon in front of the White House, twice promising his supporters he would lead a march on the Capitol, ostensibly to protest the certification by Congress of Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 presidential election. Trump simply returned to the White House after his speech, but his anti-democratic followers took his orders literally and descended on the Capitol, breaking in and occupying the government building for hours.

At least one coup plotter with what appeared to be a firearm strapped to his hip could be seen holding zip-ties, a sign to many that some of the Trump loyalists planned to take members of Congress hostage. That was precisely the kidnapping plan of Michigan Governor Gretech Whitmer which was foiled before the election, according to the FBI. The idea was was to storm the Michigan legislature and start executing lawmakers live on TV, according to the FBI’s indictment of several Trump-supporting terrorists.

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Two improvised explosive devices were found around the Capitol on Wednesday, but both were safely neutralized.

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One person in Wednesday’s attempted coup, identified as Ashli Babbitt from San Diego, was shot by an unidentified person and died during the melee. Babbitt was reportedly a 14-year veteran of the Air Force and a supporter of the QAnon conspiracy theory that believes President Trump is saving the world from a cabal of cannibalistic pedophiles. Babbitt is already being hailed as a martyr in fascist circles on the internet. Another three people died in the chaos on Wednesday, though the circumstances around those deaths have not been disclosed.

Social media companies clamped down on President Trump’s accounts late Wednesday, and Twitter even suspended Trump for 12 hours, though the company stopped short of deleting his account permanently for inspiring an insurrection.

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Congress finally certified Biden’s win at 3:33 a.m. ET this morning and Trump released a statement claiming that he would be involved in an orderly transition of power.

“Even though I totally disagree with the outcome of the election, and the facts bear me out, nevertheless there will be an orderly transition on January 20th,” Trump said in the statement obtained by CNN. “I have always said we would continue our fight to ensure that only legal votes were counted. While this represents the end of the greatest first term in presidential history, it’s only the beginning of our fight to Make America Great Again.”

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The statement has the hallmarks of being written by someone from Trump’s press team and Trump supporters on Twitter can clearly read between the lines. One prominent QAnon figure on social media notes that they’re not hearing anything like a concession in that statement. In fact, they believe it’s a signal that Trump intends to continue his fight.

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But we should know later today whether Trump really plans to hand over power when he regains access to his Twitter account. Twelve hours isn’t a very long time for an attempted dictator to sit in the time-out corner.