Claim: The former President of the United States, Donald Trump, in a congratulatory message to Nigeria over the recent Twitter ban, claimed Twitter banned President Muhammadu Buhari.
Twitter didn’t ban President Muhammadu Buhari. Twitter only removed a post made by the President.
On Friday, June 4, 2021, the Nigerian government suspended the operations indefinitely in the country the persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.
The suspension came days after Twitter deleted a post by President Muhammadu Buhari where he had condemned the attacks on police stations, prisons and offices of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the South-East, warning that those supporting insurrection and violence in the country would be “treated in the language they understand.”
The tweet reads: “Many of those misbehaving today are too young to be aware of the destruction and loss of lives that occurred during the Nigerian Civil War. Those of us in the fields for 30 months, who went through the war, will treat them in the language they understand.”
This suspension has brought about a lot of reaction from Nigerians and also the international community.
On Tuesday, June 8, 2021, the former president of the United States, Donald Trump, in a statement, congratulated Nigeria for banning the operations of Twitter in the country. Trump also encouraged more countries to do the same.
Trump, in his statement, claimed Twitter banned President Muhammadu Buhari.
He wrote: “Congratulations to the country of Nigeria, who just banned Twitter because they banned their President. More COUNTRIES should ban Twitter and Facebook for not allowing free and open speech – all voices should be heard.
“In the meantime, competitors will emerge and take hold. Who are they to dictate good and evil if they themselves are evil?
“Perhaps, I should have done it while I was President. But Zuckerberg kept calling me and coming to the White House for dinner telling me how great I was.”
It can be recalled that in January 2021, Twitter and Facebook suspended the accounts of Donald Trump, following the January 6 attack on Capitol Hill. The platforms claim he mobilised his followers to invade Capitol Hill over the outcome of the November 2020 presidential election after he lost.
Dubawa started by checking the official Twitter handle of President Muhammadu Buhari (@MBuhari) to see if his account has been banned or deactivated but found nothing of such.
Also, he is still recognised as Nigeria’s President as stated on his bio in the verified handle. As of Wednesday, June 9, the President’s account is active with 4.1 million followers.
Further checks showed that his last tweet was on June 1 and all is still intact except for his controversial post which was removed.
Twitter’s policy on ban
Twitter has some rules and policies to ensure all people can participate in the public conversation freely and safely.
A Twitter user can be banned or permanently suspended if found guilty of the risk of further incitement of violence.
For instance, the former president, Donald Trump, was banned on Twitter, following his tweet which led to the January 6 attack on Capitol Hill.
Twitter, in a press release, explaining why Trump was banned, said: “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.”
According to Twitter, when a user is removed from the platform, such user is permanently removed no matter the position such user holds in the public.
Twitter’s chief financial officer, Ned Segal, in an interview on CNBC after Trump was banned, reiterated that Twitter has policies in place to “make sure that people are not inciting violence” and, if someone’s content does that, they will be removed from the platform.
“When you are removed from the platform, you are removed from the platform, whether you are a commentator, you’re a CFO, or you are a former or current public official, he said.
In President Buhari’s case, he violated Twitter’s “abusive behavior” policy which led to the removal of the post and suspension of his account for 12 hours. The consequence of violating this rule is linked to a number of factors including, but not limited to, the severity of the violation and an individual’s previous record of rule violations.
In twitter’s judgement, Buhari has not done what could warrant a ban, hence, his account was not removed from the platform.
The claim by the former president of the United States is false. Twitter didn’t ban President Muhammadu Buhari. Twitter only removed a post made by the President.
The researcher produced this fact-check per the Dubawa 2021 Kwame KariKari Fellowship partnership with The Nigerian Tribune to facilitate the ethos of “truth” in journalism and enhance media literacy in the country.