What kicking Trump off Twitter can and can't do

Trump is far from the first controversial figure to be booted off social media, which means we have some data showing how deplatforming can work. A 2015 study looked at Reddit’s decision to remove its most toxic subreddits and analyzed the behavior of those subreddits users after the ban. Using machine learning1 the study found that many of the users stopped using the site entirely, and those that stayed posted far less hate speech on the rest of the site — by at least 80 percent.

Amy Bruckman, a professor and associate chair in the School of Interactive Computing at Georgia Tech, is currently working on a study that looks at the deplatforming of major controversial figures like far-right commentator Milo Yiannopoulos and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. Though the study has not yet been peer-reviewed and published, Bruckman said it shows similar findings to the Reddit study.

“We found that after they’re kicked off Twitter people talk about them less on Twitter, and people talk about their ideas less on Twitter,” Bruckman said. “Looking at the supporters, we found that the toxicity of their speech went down.”

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