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Bombshell: Twitter Restricts Donald Trump Jr.'s Account

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Hell hath no fury like a tech company faced with a Republican who won’t say what they want him to.

Donald Trump Jr., son of the president and one of his top surrogates, has had his access to his Twitter account restricted after he shared a video about the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine.

According to the BBC, the social media giant took its latest swipe at a member of the Trump administration by forbidding the president’s son from posting new tweets unless he deleted a video featuring doctors discussing the potential prophylactic qualities of the antimalarial drug.

The video, featuring physicians from the controversial group America’s Frontline Doctors, had been censored by several social media networks after it was streamed by Breitbart on Monday.

Tuesday morning, Trump Jr. spokesman Andrew Surabian said the president’s son had his account suspended because he shared the video.

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“BREAKING: @Twitter & [Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey] have suspended @DonaldJTrumpJr for posting a viral video of medical doctors talking about Hydroxychloroquin,” Surabian said.

“Big Tech is the biggest threat to free expression in America today & they’re continuing to engage in open election interference – full stop.”

Should Donald Trump Jr. have had his account restricted?

Twitter would clarify that Trump Jr.’s account hadn’t been suspended — he’d merely been forced to delete the tweet containing the video and wait 12 hours before he would be allowed to tweet again.

“Per the screenshot, the Tweet requires deletion because it violates our rules (sharing misinformation on COVID-19), and the account will have limited functionality for 12 hours,” the tweet read.

“We are taking action in line with our policy,” Twitter told the BBC.

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Surabian said the difference was a matter of semantics.

“If someone can’t tweet, retweet or like anything, pretty sure that qualifies as a suspension, even if they use a different corporate approved term for it,” he said.

In a statement to The Western Journal, Surabian said Twitter’s actions against Trump Jr. were “beyond the pale.”

“Twitter suspending Don Jr. for sharing a viral video of medical professionals discussing their views on Hydroxychloroquine is further proof that Big Tech is intent on killing free expression online and is another instance of them committing election interference to stifle Republican voices,” he said.

“While there is indeed much disagreement in the medical community about the efficacy of Hydroxychloroquine in treating coronavirus, there have been studies reported on by ‘mainstream’ outlets like CNN, suggesting that it may in fact be an effective treatment. Those pretending otherwise are lying for political reasons.

“It is beyond the pale for Twitter to silence someone for sharing the views of medical professionals who happen to dissent with their anti-Hydroxychloroquine narrative.”

The video was either identical to or a version of a similar video shared by Breitbart News on Monday. According to the outlet’s statistics, it was by far the top video on social media before it was taken down for violating social media guidelines against “misinformation” regarding COVID-19.

On its website, America’s Frontline Doctors said “American life has fallen casualty to a massive disinformation campaign. We can speculate on how this has happened, and why it has continued, but the purpose of the inaugural White Coat Summit is to empower Americans to stop living in fear. If Americans continue to let so-called experts and media personalities make their decisions, the great American experiment of a Constitutional Republic with Representative Democracy, will cease.”

New York Times tech columnist Kevin Roose inquired about the video’s removal from Facebook on Monday and was told by spokesman Andy Stone that “we removed it for sharing false information about cures and treatments for COVID-19.”

Stone also said the video didn’t meet Facebook’s “newsworthiness policy” in which content that violates the social media giant’s policies is allowed to remain up.

Now, we shouldn’t pretend the doctors’ video isn’t controversial, even among conservatives.

One view, espoused here by TheBlaze’s Allie Beth Stuckey, is that dismissing the doctors’ claims out of hand is a dangerous precedent:

The other view, represented here by The Daily Wire’s Emily Zanotti, is that at least one member of America’s Frontline Doctors isn’t necessarily the most reliable person to be talking about hydroxychloroquine:

That information comes from a 2013 sermon the doctor posted on YouTube.

You’ll notice three things, though.

First, neither Twitter nor Facebook specifically gave the strange beliefs of one of the doctors in the video as a reason they locked Trump Jr.’s account. They took it down because anything that speaks favorably about hydroxychloroquine as a potential treatment for COVID-19 is definitely misinformation to social media.

Second, these are still doctors, whether you agree with the more esoteric beliefs of one of them. Lara Trump noted something here:

Third, neither Stuckey nor Zanotti believes the video ought to be taken down or anyone should be locked out of his account for sharing it. Even in Zanotti’s case, she cites the Streisand effect: The process by which trying to limit access to information only interests more people in accessing that information.

In this case, it doesn’t just draw attention to the video by America’s Frontline Doctors, it delegitimizes social media by making it look, yet again, like they’re specifically censoring the Tumps.

The reason behind that is, well, they are.

This is hardly the first time — mail-in voting is still the most egregious example — and it’ll hardly be the last time.

Social media has no consistent principles when it comes to what information gets censored, but it does have consistent targets. The president and his family are among them.

This isn’t going to change anytime between now and Election Day.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Birthplace
Morristown, New Jersey
Education
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture




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