Advocacy Insights from Trump’s Twitter Ban
January 6th, 2021 will be remembered as one of the alarming days in American history. We saw the sitting President of the United States tell his supporters, “We will never give up, we will never concede,” he urged them to “fight like hell or you won’t have a country anymore” calling Democratic victories the product of “explosions of bullshit,” and then instructed them to “walk down to the Capitol.”
His supporters listened.
They stormed the capital where the Senate was counting the electoral votes and certifying Joe Biden’s victory. They beat police officers, some rioters using Blue Lives Matter flags, one of them died as a result, they threatened to murder elected officials for following the Constitution, they stole and damaged government property, and they desecrated the sacred halls of Congress. By the end of the day, five Americans were dead, hundreds more were injured and millions were enraged by what happened.
And while it may seem like a small victory, when it was all said and done, Twitter banned Donald Trump for inciting violence on their platform. This ban stopped the spread of violent rhetoric, severed his ability to spread misinformation, and served as a small bright spot on one of America’s darkest days.
As the aftermath of the days events unfolded people seemed shocked that this could have happened. But for anyone who has been paying attention to Donald Trump’s Twitter for the last four years, the only surprise was that his words didn’t lead to something like this sooner. Trump has routinely violated Twitter Terms & Conditions with impunity, regularly insulting people who disagreed with him and incited violence to ignite his base. Those of us who were paying attention have been calling on Twitter, and other social media platforms, to ban Trump for years. Not because we disagree with his political views or don’t believe in the First Amendment, but simply because he was violating the rules of the platforms, rules that all other users were required to follow.
On the morning of January 6th, when I saw the news of MAGA’s insurrection on the Capital and noticed Trump’s Tweets of encouragement to the mob who had just murdered a police officer, I used Rally Starter to quickly put together a campaign, calling on the Twitter Board of Directors to permanently ban Trump from their platform.
I noticed that there was a lot of chatter about Trump needing to be banned from Twitter as the events of the day unfolded, so after creating the campaign I replied to the top post by people who were tweeting at Twitter’s founder and CEO Jack Dorsey “Jack doesn’t check his replies but the Twitter Board does read their emails, let them know that enough is enough.” Within minutes there were hundreds of retweets and likes.
After a few hours, people had collectively sent the Twitter Board of Directors over 5,000 emails through Rally Starter, and by the late afternoon Trump’s account was suspended.
I’m not saying we deserve the credit for getting Trump’s Twitter account shut down – the televised insurrection had a whole lot to do with it – but I also would not be surprised to hear that the Twitter Board played a role in this decision, and I know we filled all of their inboxes that day.
Over the years, there have been millions of tweets calling on Twitter to suspend Trump for violating their Terms of Service, but this is the first time anyone has included an easy way for people to send direct emails to all ten members of the Twitter Board Directors in any such effort. This was the main advocacy insight that I took away from the day. Email is a powerful and underused advocacy tool. So many people (including myself) tend to take to social media to voice our grievances with companies. It feels good to get it out in a public forum where others can see, like, comment and share. And while social media plays a big role in advocacy, don’t forget direct outreach to the powerful people who can actually bring about the change you’re looking for.
As the founder of Rally Starter, I was thrilled to see our platform’s capabilities in action. And as American citizen who cares deeply about our democracy I was very happy to see Trump’s removal from Twitter, and was honored to play even a small role in making it happen. This experience made me really bullish on the positive impact we can have by easy to creative advocacy campaigns that reach beyond social media outlets to include emails and phone calls as a way to engage supporters, truly creating change we can rally behind.
About the Author
Eric Facas, Media Cause Founder & CEO
After 10+ years as a digital marketer for tech companies and startups Eric shifted course toward social impact in 2010, founding a purpose-led marketing agency Media Cause. As CEO Eric has led the agency’s growth into a market leader with hundreds of nonprofit and mission driven clients and offices in San Francisco, Boston, Atlanta, and Washington, DC. Eric’s passion for developing scalable solutions to important global issues has continued with the creation of the advocacy platform, Rally Starter, and nonprofit incubator Social Good Labs.
Earlier in his career Eric spent five years at Google where he helped launch new programs, built teams, and ran Google’s SEM Agency Council. In 2008 Eric received an EMG/Founder’s award from Google’s Executive Management Group for his work on the creation and rollout of the multi-billion dollar AdWords API program. When not at work Eric can be found hiking, mountain biking, or at the beach in Marin Country, CA or Kauai, HI with his family.