In a rather unprecedented move, the US President has been cut off from social media access. Donald Trump's Twitter account has been suspended, and he remains 'indefinitely' locked out of Facebook and Instagram. And as people outrage or cheer on the move - both online and offline - many other companies are cracking down on Trump and his allies.
It is not simply the @realdonaldtrump handle with more than 88 million followers that has been suspended. Attempts made by the President to reach out to his supporters through the Team Trump twitter handle soon led to the suspension of that account. And his posts on the topic, shared from the President's official handle were deleted. Facebook and Instagram have said that the block over his Facebook and Instagram accounts were being extended "indefinitely and for at least the next two weeks". At the end of two weeks, Trump will no longer be President.
Several Trump loyalists and Republican leaders have also found themselves banned by Twitter. Former national security adviser Michael Flynn and Trump’s attorney Sidney Powell have also found themselves permanently banned from Twitter. Far far-right radio host Rush Limbaugh's handle was also shut down.
But the ban goes beyond these three platforms. The "r/Donaldtrump" subreddit has been banned and Trump's Snapchat account has been suspended. His merchandise (or rather, MAGA merch) can no longer be sold via affiliated stores on the Shopify platform, and payment processor PayPal has closed an account that had been raising funds for the protestors.
While there is no ban or suspension of President Trump on Google's suite of services, there have been certain restrictions placed here too. YouTube, which has deleted videos posted by President Trump in the past, put out a stern message for those propagating false information. "Starting today *any* channels posting new videos with false claims in violation of our policies will now receive a strike," the YouTube Insider handle tweeted. The "War Room” podcast and a channel associated with former White House strategist Steve Bannon has been shut down.
But as Trump loyalists attempted to escape the Twitter curbs by shifting to another similar site - this too has been thwarted. Parler had been touted as a Twitter-like platform without the undesirable restrictions. And for some time, the two had co-existed rather peaceably, with most people eschewing it in favour of Twitter. Now, even as many decide to leave the app, hitherto unforeseen complications have cropped up.
Parler has been suspended from the Google Play store, while Apple gave it a 24 hours ultimatum before the app would be removed from the App Store. Both companies have expressed concern about the lack of restrictions, calling on Parler to step up its policing of the conversations that take place on the platform.