Banning Trump from Social Media Makes Sense. But Beware the Downside

By Jessica Colarossi, for The Brink

President Donald Trump addressed his supporters from the Ellipse at the White House on Wednesday, January 6, before thousands from the crowd breached the Capitol Building. The attack that was largely planned and discussed on social media and extreme online communities, according to one BU researcher. Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via AP Images

After a shocking day in American history when a violent mob, incited by President Trump, stormed and breached the Capitol Building, Facebook and Twitter temporarily banned the president from using their platforms. On Thursday morning, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg went a step further, announcing Trump will be banned from Facebook’s social media platforms until at least the end of his term on January 20.

The events were a direct reaction to words that Trump has repeated on social media, and that he said at a rally Wednesday before the attack on the Capitol—baseless claims about election fraud, the election being stolen from him, and his loss to Joe Biden in November.

“I think that banning [Trump’s] account is the right call for social networks, but it might have unforeseen consequences,” says Gianluca Stringhini, a Boston University College of Engineering assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering. He has been studying online disinformation, hate speech, and radicalization for years, and recently earned a National Science Foundation CAREER award to develop tools to rapidly identify coordinated cyber mobs.

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