SAN FRANCISCO – The “new year” was barely 24 hours old when President Donald Trump did what President Donald Trump does: he tweeted something as inane and stupid as it was gratuitously provocative. This time, it was in response to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s declaration that he was now in possession of nuclear capabilities that could strike at the whole of the United States, symbolized by a button on his desk.
Trump’s reply that his button was “much bigger & more powerful” and that it “actually works” was indeed juvenile – which is not new – but the unfathomable consequences of such a childish game between two countries capable of nuclear obliteration are deadly serious.
Users have called on Twitter to suspend the President’s account by saying he continually violates the company’s Community Standards. They even targeted Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey by projecting the words “Jack is complicit” onto the Twitter building one recent afternoon.
While the campaign serves as yet another way of drawing attention to the dangers Trump poses, its prospects for persuading Twitter appear remote. The company has said before that the President’s tweets are “newsworthy,” which is why they haven’t moved on him in the past.
But the other, more pertinent reason is that Trump’s nuclear tweet may very well have been in line with Twitter’s standards, which were changed late last year. According to guidelines released in mid-December:
“Accounts that affiliate with organizations that use or promote violence against civilians to further their causes. Groups included in this policy will be those that identify as such or engage in activity — both on and off the platform — that promotes violence. This policy does not apply to military or government entities and we will consider exceptions for groups that are currently engaging in (or have engaged in) peaceful resolution.”
Violence is the monopoly of the state. Violence committed by those fighting against the state is always illegal. As Intercept journalist Glenn Greenwald noted:
“So telling that Twitter’s new prohibition on advocating violence exempts those who want govts or militaries to kill. Thus, ‘I want US Govt to nuke N Korea’ or ‘Israel should obliterate Gaza’: permitted. But ‘it’s justified for Muslims to use violence in self-defense’: banned.”
The Washington Post and The New York Times have long been varsity cheerleaders for war. With its new guidelines, Twitter, a crucial player in social media, now joins such traditional media in providing cover for state-sanctioned violence.
Coinciding with cheerleading for war is the push to silence voices critical of war and war policy; commonly referred to as dissent. MintPress News has written elsewhere about the current wave of censorship in which we find ourselves enmeshed. Views that do not align with the current political status quo – as well as corporate priorities – will find themselves being shut down and thus withheld from a significant portion of the population.
Such a predicament is neither unique to the Trump administration nor new. George Orwell informed us about it a long time ago. We should have been better prepared.