During an appearance on the “Rock ‘N’ Roll Icons With Bode James” podcast, former DOKKEN and current FOREIGNER bassist Jeff Pilson was asked to weigh in on Twitter permanently suspending President Donald Trump‘s account.
Last week, the social media platform decided that the president had crossed a line too far continuing to use Twitter to repeat debunked conspiracy theories about the election, even after thousands of his supporters violently stormed the U.S. Capitol in an insurrection that left five dead. Twitter, which has a policy against inciting violence, undermining democratic processes and spreading election misinformation, announced it would no longer let Trump use its platform. Twitter suspended the president’s personal account, @realDonaldTrump, citing “the risk of further incitement of violence.”
Speaking about the fact that Trump was banned or suspended by Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitch in the span of a couple of days last week, Pilson said (see video below): “I always go back to the thing of, you can’t yell ‘fire’ in a movie theater… I think that it really is down to you have to make the practical decision case by case, because some are ‘fire in the movie theater’ — obviously, the president.
“I’m sure he didn’t want people to die, but he’s an old enough man, and he should be responsible, as president of United States, to realize that by saying the things he said, this could happen,” he continued. “So, his speech clearly can incite insurrection. So, in that case, to me, that’s fire in the movie theater. Saying ‘fuck’ on a record is not, in my opinion.
“I think there just has to be practicality and common sense… What’s common sense? What’s good for people? What’s good for everybody? And, to me, it’s just we’ve gotta return to common sense.
“When you see the vitriol on the people that were interviewed that were in that insurrection the other day, a lot of them really do believe — I don’t know if they just worked themselves into believing, but they really thought the election was stolen,” Pilson added. “How did we get to that point? I saw one guy talking about, ‘The Supreme Court wouldn’t help,’ and blah blah blah. Well, that’s because there was no evidence [of widespread voter fraud].
“A lot of those people, I’m sure, are genuine patriots, and they really believed in their cause, and they really believe in freedom. But when they get massive misinformation, how are they supposed to judge accordingly? How are supposed to dictate what to do? So now misinformation becomes a thing. And I think misinformation has to be dealt with. I think it’s one of the biggest problems that’s going on.
“I don’t know if you saw that movie ‘The Social Dilemma’ — a fabulous movie; really insightful about just the craziness on both sides,” Jeff said. “And it’s, like, how did we get to that point? And certainly social media has exacerbated the prolem, because it’s unchecked. It’s out there, and it’s unchecked, and now, because people have narrowed their focus — people choose their own news sources — you can find a news source that tells you anything you wanna hear. And that’s just fundamentally wrong. In common sense, doesn’t that sound wrong? And whether it’s Antifa or Trump — whatever it is — it’s crazy crap. So get rid of the crazy crap. What can we do to get rid of that? And, again, I think it goes back to common sense.
“Here’s the thing: who’s the decider? Does [Facebook CEO] Mark Zuckerberg decide what’s wrong and right, giving him that much power? That doesn’t seem right either, but we don’t have any other answers yet. And, unfortunately, it may take a deciding body that decides what is misinformation or not, but boy, imagine the political red herring of trying to put that together. It’s gonna be really, really difficult.”
Despite Trump‘s claim that Twitter was violating his First Amendment right to free speech, private entities like Twitter have every right to take down or suspend user accounts, especially when they are being used for nefarious purposes.
“After close review of recent Tweets from the @realDonaldTrump account and the context around them — specifically how they are being received and interpreted on and off Twitter — we have permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence,” the company said in a statement.
The statement listed two of Trump‘s Friday tweets as the reasons for banning his account. The first was his tweet that read: “The 75,000,000 great American Patriots who voted for me, AMERICA FIRST, and MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN, will have a GIANT VOICE long into the future. They will not be disrespected or treated unfairly in any way, shape or form!!!”
The second was his announcement that he wouldn’t attend the inauguration: “To all of those who have asked, I will not be going to the Inauguration on January 20th.”
Twitter said that both posts “must be read in the context of broader events in the country and the ways in which the President’s statements can be mobilized by different audiences, including to incite violence, as well as in the context of the pattern of behavior from this account in recent weeks.”
Earlier this week, YouTube suspended Trump‘s account for at least a week. Amazon, Google and Apple have also removed the Parler app, which is reportedly used by many of Trump‘s supporters.