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January 25th

Keep Him Off

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Memo to social media companies: DON’T BE DUMB. KEEP HIM OFF.

We all, for a sufficiently loose definition of “all”, breathed a deep sigh of relief when Trump left the White House and Biden was sworn in. But that sigh of relief really started a week or so earlier, when Donald Trump was kicked off of all social media.

It was beautiful. The sun shone a little brighter. The air smelled a little sweeter. The distant sound of children’s laughter rang out over the countryside. And nobody successfully incited a mob to try to murder anyone in the government during the inauguration.

As we approach the first week sans Trump in a very long time, can anyone think of a serious, valid reason to let Donald J. Trump back on Twitter? Because I know I can’t.

I mean, keep him off the rest of social media too, sure, but Twitter defined him both as a man and as a president. There weren’t any news stories over the past four years about how he posted something on Facebook. Plus someone would have to teach him how to use it.

But wait, your fake-libertarian cousin may ask. Doesn’t this set a dangerous precedent? Doesn’t this prove Big Tech has too much power to silence people? Isn’t this a.... slippery slope? To which I answer “no”, “yes, but”, and “not really”, respectively.

It doesn’t really set a dangerous precedent for Twitter to decide, for its own selfish reasons, that their engagement metrics finally weren’t worth letting Trump spew his bullshit for the last ten days of his term. What would it be a precedent for? The next brain-worm-addled zero-attention-span wannabe Mussolini who gets elected president and tries to overthrow the government with a misfit army of message-board chucklefucks? What Trump got thrown off social media for was in fact unprecedented and had better not come even close to happening again or we’re gonna have much bigger problems than “what’s Twitter doing about it”?

Does it demonstrate that Big Tech has too much power? Yes, but no more so than everything else Big Tech has done during the Trump years. Arguably it’s less demonstrative than Facebook’s role in electioneering or everyone’s role in bot-driven algorithmic disinformation and radicalization.

Is it a slippery slope? Not really. People use the term “slippery slope” like slopes have a single constant steepness and a single constant coefficient of sliding friction. But that’s simply not true. Some slopes are very shallow and not very slippery and give you plenty of time to realize you’re starting to slide and do something about it. This is the damp driveway of slippery-slopers. Not something you need to worry about.

So why keep him off social media? Because once you dismiss the slippery slope arguments, it’s an unbridled good for America and society. First, it’s literally the only punishment he’s suffered or likely to suffer for trying to have Mike Pence murdered so he could stay in power. I’m no fan of MIke Pence, but I’m apparently a bigger MIke Pence fan than the Republican Party, who are tripping over each other to see who can be the first to extend olive branches, bouquets, and blowjobs to the crew who, again, wanted to MURDER MIKE PENCE.

Second, it’s good for the media. Let’s take, for example, the news that the Trump administration had NO plans for a federal vaccine rollout. Not just bad plans. NO plans. Here’s how the story played out without Trump on Twitter:

Biden Admin: There was no vaccine plan at all.

Media: Trump Administration Had No Vaccine Plan, Biden Says

And now, that same news item, only with Trump on Twitter:

Biden Admin: There was no vaccine plan at all.

Trump on Twitter: WE HAD THE BEST VACCINE PLAN EVERYONE GOT VACCINES BLAH BLAH BLAH

Media: Biden, Co-President Trump In Tussle Over Vaccine Plan

You know that’s how it’d go down. The only way to keep the media from paying as much attention to Trump as they did when he was president is to take away his megaphone. Even if the First Amendment somehow applied to deplatforming, which it doesn’t, the argument could easily be made that every single Trump tweet falls under the exceptions for being fundamentally harmful, like death threats or shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theater when there is no fire in that crowded theater.

So just keep him off. Keep him off long enough that it won’t be a major two-week media event when he comes back - six months at a minimum. Do it for our sanity. Do it for America. Do it so that Trump has to learn how to create a Substack without Barron’s help.