News roundup: Trump gets silenced, Google face unionisation, and Musk becomes world’s richest man

A round up of this week's technology news including a major social media ban on Trump, more info on the SolarWinds hack, and a new year’s outage for Slack.


Trump silenced by social media giants

It might only be the first week of 2021, but boy didn’t a whole lot happen in the last seven days. The biggest news story of this week was undoubtedly the developments around the hordes of pro-Trump protestors/rioters that violently stormed the US Capitol building this week in an attempt to scuttle the ceremonial counting of electoral votes. It resulted in some of the most unsettling scenes for the wider context of US democracy in recent history, with four people losing their lives in the riots.

During the events, Donald Trump was, as you might expect, Tweeting and Facebooking. The posts — which included further doubts on the election results and a video address that expressed “love” for rioters while urging them to “go home in peace”—were enough for both Facebook and Twitter to suspend his social media privileges.

Twitter instituted their ban for 12 hours and mandated that three policy-violating tweets be deleted, including the aforementioned video address. The company has since reinstated the President’s account with the caveat that they would permanently ban him if he broke the platform’s rules again. He used his first Tweet back on the platform to firmly denounce the ‘violent demonstrators’, while committing to a peaceful transition of power.

Unlike Twitter, though, the Facebook (including Instagram) ban has not since been reversed.  While the social media company initially employed a 24-hour ban on Trump authoring new posts, it said the suspension will now not be revised until the transition of power to Joe Biden on the 20th of January. In explaining the ban, Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg said the risk of reactivating Trump’s account were “simply too great”, arguing it removed his recent posts because they “judged that their effect -- and likely their intent -- would be to provoke further violence.”

Shopify and PayPal also removed Trump-related accounts, citing policies against supporting violence.  This included the cease of official MAGA merchandise sales though Shopify, as well as an account that funded Trump supporters who travelled to Washington, DC.

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