For months now, people have been making the case that Twitter needs to remove Donald Trump from its platform. In January, the CEO of reddit and the former head of localization for Twitter wrote an impassioned letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey urging him to look at Trump’s criticizing of a civil rights hero, the attack on an 18-year-old girl, and his use of the service to spread propaganda and lies as reason enough. The Verge recently said that Twitter has a morale obligation to ban Trump for all of his name-calling and turning Twitter into a toxic swamp. Pando said that Trump’s use of two Twitter accounts (a personal one and an official POTUS one) is a violation of the company’s terms of service, and the company is showing great cowardice for not doing something about the President’s baseless wiretapping accusations towards Obama. This past week, the creator of House of Cards even pleaded with Twitter to remove Trump, saying the President’s use posed a threat to national security.
But whether there’s good reason for Twitter to remove Trump or not, it’s not going to happen. Not on its own, at least. Because if there’s one thing Twitter places importance on above all, it is its bottom line. When you’re in the business of monetizing conversation and attention, let’s face it, you’re not going to boot the world’s most controversial person from your platform. The only thing that has moved the needle for Twitter in recent months is Trump, who helped drive an uptick in usage surrounding the election. Again, it’s just not going to happen on its own. If so, it would have happened already.
But if we were serious about it — and I mean really serious about it — here’s how we could force it to happen. We could stage a #DeleteTrump protest… of Twitter itself. For one week, we’d get as many people across the globe to pledge to pause their use of the service. Twitter has 140 million people using it daily. If 35 million people could take a stand, that’s 25% of Twitter’s business gone overnight. Maybe it would take more than a week, I’m not sure — but I’m telling you, with the investor pressure Twitter is under these days, a substantial boycott would be a blow the business cannot sustain.
It would need to start with the resistance-minded celebrity influencers; the Chrissy Teigens and George Tekais of the world. They could start a movement. It could then be amplified by the likes of Bernie Sanders and Michael Moore, to rally the troops. Then you get the Jake Tappers and Ezra Kleins firing up the media and you’ve hit a critical mass. If enough high profile people and news organizations — the lifeblood of Twitter in many respects — would lead by example as well as encourage their followers, you could see a drastic drop in usage across the platform that would have ripple effects.
It may sound incredulous, but if there’s one thing this election has taught us is that nothing is impossible anymore. The fact that, quite literally, one of the worst people on earth got elected to be President of the United States of America was one thing, but every resistance action since has been history in the making. The millions of people across the globe who marched for women. The #DeleteUber campaign that got a $65 billion dollar company to change its stance and walk away from Trump’s business advisory council. Getting Ivanka’s clothing lines pulled from multiple retailers. The resistance has fought hard and made unprecedented impact in so many ways. If millions can march in the streets, surely they can temporarily give up an app. Heck, you’ve got a quarter of a million people following a goddamn onion just to prove a point. This could be done.
“But how would we survive without Twitter?” you might ask. The same way you did before Twitter became a daily habit. Visit your favorite (reputable) news site. Watch the evening news. Heaven forbid, read a paper front to back. You could do this. We all could do this. If we really wanted to, we could do this. You all have Facebook accounts that work too.
It’s a kernel of an idea, but it would take some high profile champions to turn it into action. If you think it has any merit, please share it with those who might be able to do something with it. Personally, I would give up Twitter for a week in a heartbeat if I knew it could make a difference. I know many of you would too.
And who knows, a week off of Twitter might actually be really healthy for everyone. Most of all, the President.