@SuspendThePres was created by Andrew Lazar in May as an experiment to see if Twitter’s algorithms would flag Trump’s tweets as inappropriate if they came from the account of a regular citizen, rather than from the account of the U.S. president.
Lazar, who since joined the Arizona Lincoln Project leadership team as a volunteer, encouraged @SuspendThePres’ over 54,000 followers to report rule-violating tweets. Over the course of the last eight months, Lazar previously told HuffPost, the account was flagged four times for posting what Twitter described as tweets “glorifying violence” and “posting misleading information about voting.” In each instance, the offending tweets were deleted by the platform and the account was temporarily locked.
However, when they came from Trump’s account, those same tweets were allowed to stay online, some with disclaimers attached, due to Twitter policies that generally leave rule-violating content from world leaders up, since such statements are deemed within the public interest.
All of this changed after pro-Trump supporters stormed the Capitol on Wednesday, and Twitter finally permanently banned the president from the platform, citing the risk of further incitement of violence (after initially just levying a 12-hour ban on his account).
Lazar tweeted from the @SuspendThePres account that the development was a moment to celebrate, and thanked supporters for playing a role in exposing the dangers of Trump’s rhetoric.
On his personal Twitter account, Lazar wrote that waking up in the morning without having to check and retweet the president’s feed — a process that took hours — was “liberating.”
“Twitter’s original stance on a double standard was proving to have real world disastrous consequences and they put a stop to it,” Lazar told HuffPost, stressing that a normal account would never have gotten away with Trump’s brazen speech, adding that Twitter’s decision was “better late than never.”
Lazar also addressed those — like Donald Trump Jr. — who called the president’s suspension a form of censorship.
“Anyone decrying Trump’s eventual suspension as an overt act of censorship needs only to look at the results of the [@SuspendThePres] experiment,” Lazar said. “He was given hundreds of slaps on the wrist and chances to change his content to conform to the rules he signed when opening an account. ... It’s not censorship to enforce your platform’s rules. If anything, it’s leveling the playing field.”
As for the future of the @SuspendThePres account, Lazar said that he planned to continue posting updates related to Trump’s remaining days in office, and might repurpose the account to focus on another political figure in the future.
“While there certainly are a number of people whom it could be pointed to, none, so far as I’m concerned, deserve the same level of scrutiny as the previous subject,” Lazar said. “Time may change that.”