Open Letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey: Permanently Ban Donald J. Trump

Dear Mr. Jack Dorsey:

I urge you to permanently ban Mr. Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) from Twitter for violating its policy on hateful conduct. Mr. Trump’s well-documented history of hateful speech both on and off Twitter makes a permanent ban preferable to suspending his account. His celebrity as a former reality television star, his prominence in the business world, and now his political power as President-elect of the United States of America help to amplify his hate speech and legitimize the hate speech of others, more reasons to permanently ban him.

Below, I provide evidence to support a permanent ban of Donald Trump from Twitter as the best course of immediate action.

In my analysis, I include only Tweets that Mr. Trump has not deleted (as of 20 November 2016) to demonstrate that his hate speech is not a thing of the past. I have included the Tweets as images in case Mr. Trump deletes them subsequently, but I link to the original Tweet in the caption. Most importantly, however, the collections of Tweets below highlight a pattern of behavior in violation of Twitter policy on hateful conduct.

Understand that I am not requesting you ban the incoming Trump Administration from using official Twitter accounts of the Executive Branch of the United States government, which have to my knowledge never violated Twitter policy. Instead, I request that Donald Trump as an individual user be banned permanently from Twitter. If his administration wishes to continue his hate speech, they must do so on official government Twitter accounts, in which case I would request the offending accounts also be banned.

Mr. Trump has repeatedly violated Twitter’s policy on hateful conduct

Donald J. Trump has repeatedly violated Twitter’s policy on hateful conduct, in particular the provisions I have highlighted below in a screenshot of your “Hateful conduct policy” page taken on 20 November 2016.

Screenshot of Twitter’s policy on hateful conduct taken 20 November 2016; emphasis is mine

Mr. Trump incites fear about a protected group.

The Twitter policy on hateful conduct prohibits behavior that “promote[s] violence against or directly attack[s] or threaten[s] other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or disease.” Below are examples where Mr. Trump has incited fear about a protected group on the basis of one or more of these traits.

In this Tweet, Donald Trump retweets a cartoon with his image holding up a wagging index finger to a boat full of refugees fleeing war-torn Syria. This Tweet is one of many I will include to establish Trump’s pattern of inciting fear about Syrian immigrants, in particular Syrian refugees.
In this Tweet, Donald Trump overstates the size of the Syrian refugee influx and promotes fear by severely understating the vetting process of refugees. Trump’s overstatement of our uncertainty about the identities of Syrian refugees promotes fear of individuals within United States borders on the basis of their country of origin, a clear violation of Twitter policy. Because the majority of Syrian refugees are Muslim, this is doubly a violation of Twitter policy as it promotes fear of a group based on their religion.
In this Tweet, Donald Trump further promotes fear of a protected group based on country of origin (Syria) and religion (Islam) by focusing on the supposedly poor vetting of “young males”, all despite the facts that a super-majority of Syrian immigrants are women and children, and that being a young male in no way guarantees a refugee is a member of ISIS. Moreover, entering the United States as a refugee requires supplying background information, completing iris scans, and taking part in multiple interviews, hardly poor vetting. Facts about refugee demographics and vetting aside, Trump is inciting fear about a protected group, which is all that matters.
In this Tweet — one of Donald Trump’s most egregious violations of Twitter policy — he promotes fear about eight specific Syrian refugees he claims tried to sneak into the United States despite a statement to the contrary from the Department of Homeland Security. Imagine if the identities of these refugees came to light. How great the threat to their safety might be thanks in part to Donald Trump inciting fear in a clear violation of Twitter policy!
In this Tweet, Donald Trump links to a press release still available on his website “calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.” This Tweet promotes fear of Muslim immigrants currently within the United States in addition to future Muslim immigrants, a clear violation of Twitter policy on hateful conduct.

Mr. Trump has repeated sexist tropes that degrade someone.

Donald Trump has at least twice used the sexist trope “bimbo” to describe Fox News reporter Megyn Kelly.

In this Tweet, Donald Trump uses the sexist trope “bimbo” to describe Fox News reporter Megyn Kelly. He also uses the sexist trope of slut-shaming by using a scantily clad photo spread as evidence against her character.
In this Tweet, Donald Trump gaslights Megyn Kelly with a back-handed comment claiming that he supposedly refuses to call Megyn Kelly a bimbo (despite the fact that he already has). He then belittles her as a “lightweight reporter.” This Tweet is also an example of Mr. Trump’s tendency to gaslight. Gaslighting is, according to the Oxford Dictionary, a form of psychological abuse in which a victim is manipulated into doubting their own memory. By repeating the sexist trope, Mr. Trump violates Twitter policy on hateful conduct.
In this Tweet, Donald Trump repeats the sexist trope of slut-shaming in an attempt to discredit former Miss Universe Alicia Machado, who in an ironic turn was criticizing Donald Trump for fat-shaming her, another sexist trope Trump has repeated on Twitter. This marks at least one instance when Trump repeated the sexist trope of slut-shaming, a clear violation of Twitter policy on hateful conduct.

Donald Trump’s hateful conduct encourages the hateful conduct of others

As reported in The Atlantic, Web-marketing firm Demographics Pro estimated that over 35 percent of Donald Trump’s Twitter followers also followed at least one among a selected 10 White nationalist accounts compared to 16 out of 10,000 followers of his opponent, Hillary Clinton. While following a White nationalist on Twitter is not direct evidence of supporting White nationalism, the difference between the two candidates is telling in the context of their rhetoric (see evidence for Trump’s hate speech above, which is limited to his Twitter account).

While we do not yet know whether Donald Trump’s candidacy has led to an increase in hate crimes in 2016, FBI crime reports show that in 2015 there was a 67 percent year-over-year increase in hate crimes targeting Muslims and a 7 percent increase overall. Donald Trump announced his candidacy in June 2015. Meanwhile, the Southern Poverty Law Center had as of 14 November 2016 compiled a list of 315 incidents of hateful harassment since election day, much of it targeting Muslims and Latinos, and many instances including direct references to Trump’s victory in the context of racist symbolism such as the Nazi swaztika. Perhaps most disturbingly, much of the harassment took place in K-12 schools, demonstrating the vulnerability of some impressionable youth to extreme views, and others to racist bullying by their classmates.

Permanently ban Donald Trump from Twitter without delay

Clearly, Mr. Trump has violated your policy while amassing a network of followers who could amplify his hateful conduct. Even his opponents amplify his hate speech by retweeting it in disgust. End this once and for all by banning him from Twitter forever, archiving his data as an historical record of his hateful conduct.

In the coming months, I will make similar requests that you ban other prominent politicians with histories of violating your policy on hateful conduct. At the very least, I hope you will respond to my request as publicly as I have made it.


Ben Hanowell

Resident of Washington State