Tony DeAngelo has deleted his Twitter account and has expressed his intentions to join Parler.
DeAngelo’s initial comments, which include calling Twitter “a disgrace”, came following the social media platform’s removal of multiple prominent conservative accounts, including President Trump’s, for terms of service violations.
This week the Rangers’ defenseman liked a tweet from the President about Vice President Mike Pence’s ability to reject electoral college electors, which is not true. Additionally, he showed his support when liking a tweet from the President stating that the “Country has had enough, they won’t take it anymore!” posted one day before the domestic terrorist attack took place at the U.S. Capitol on January 6 which interrupted the counting of certified electoral votes.
Parler is a social media platform that markets itself as “an unbiased social media focused on real user experiences and engagement” when in reality it is a very dangerous place. For those unfamiliar with the platform, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center:
Parler is home to far-right conspiracy theorists and was used in the coordination of Wednesday’s terrorist attack on the Capitol during the counting of certified electoral votes for the 2020 Presidential Election.
Additionally, according to the New York Times:
Just after 1 p.m., when President Trump ended his speech to protesters in Washington by calling for them to march on Congress, hundreds of echoing calls to storm the building were made by his supporters online.
On social media sites used by the far-right, such as Gab and Parler, directions on which streets to take to avoid the police and which tools to bring to help pry open doors were exchanged in comments. At least a dozen people posted about carrying guns into the halls of Congress.
According to CNN, Parler was removed from the Google Play store on Friday, and per Reuters it has been given an ultimatum from Apple to make changes to its moderation policy given recent complaints or it will be removed from their App Store as well.
According to Buzzfeed News:
“We have received numerous complaints regarding objectionable content in your Parler service, accusations that the Parler app was used to plan, coordinate, and facilitate the illegal activities in Washington D.C. on January 6, 2021 that led (among other things) to loss of life, numerous injuries, and the destruction of property,” Apple wrote to Parler. “The app also appears to continue to be used to plan and facilitate yet further illegal and dangerous activities.”
DeAngelo’s decision to join the far right platform ultimately stems from the removal of President Trump’s account, a decision that Twitter explained in particular in a blog post saying:
We assessed the two Tweets referenced above under our Glorification of Violence policy, which aims to prevent the glorification of violence that could inspire others to replicate violent acts and determined that they were highly likely to encourage and inspire people to replicate the criminal acts that took place at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.
The two tweets Twitter referenced were:
“The 75,000,000 great American Patriots who voted for me, AMERICA FIRST, and MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN, will have a GIANT VOICE long into the future. They will not be disrespected or treated unfairly in any way, shape or form!!!”
“To all of those who have asked, I will not be going to the Inauguration on January 20th.”
In summary, Twitter said:
Due to the ongoing tensions in the United States, and an uptick in the global conversation in regards to the people who violently stormed the Capitol on January 6, 2021, these two Tweets must be read in the context of broader events in the country and the ways in which the President’s statements can be mobilized by different audiences, including to incite violence, as well as in the context of the pattern of behavior from this account in recent weeks. After assessing the language in these Tweets against our Glorification of Violence policy, we have determined that these Tweets are in violation of the Glorification of Violence Policy and the user @realDonaldTrump should be immediately permanently suspended from the service.
Deletion of tweets and accounts has often been conflated with censorship, and a violation of constitutional rights, but that’s not a completely accurate description.
Twitter is a private social media service that has rules noted in their Terms of Service, and has the right to remove tweets, media, and users at its discretion. The First Amendment protects citizens against the government, and as explained by Nadine Strossen, former head of the ACLU:
“But guess what? Facebook, Twitter, the other social media platforms are not the government. They are private sector entities, and therefore, they have no First Amendment obligation to protect your freedom of speech. To the contrary, they have their own First Amendment rights—their media right. So, just as the New York Times or CNN or any other traditional media platform has no obligation to host your particular message, the same is true for social media.”
Twitter isn’t the only company that has users agree to a terms of service before allowing access to its platform. Anyone who has ever installed a video game, set up a new electronic device, or joined an online video streaming service has probably scrolled to the bottom of their screen to check the box to proceed, and in all of those cases a user is agreeing to a terms of service agreement. While it is unlikely users ever read them in its entirety, Google is helpful in finding a TL/DR when it comes to multiple T.O.S. agreements.
DeAngelo’s social media activity has always been outspoken, and he’s been a prominent supporter of President Donald Trump. His recent activity on Twitter isn’t just isolated to the president’s removal, as he’s been vocal with his tweets and expressive with likes and retweets up to this point.
Overall, DeAngelo’s recent behavior appears to be a contradiction of his previous statements regarding what he would do in the event President Trump lost the election.
SB Nation reached out to the New York Rangers for comment on DeAngelo’s liking of Trump’s tweets ahead of Wednesday’s insurrection and on his desire to join Parler. As of this writing, they have not responded. We will update the story if and when they respond.
According to Mollie Walker of the New York Post, the Rangers will not be addressing the issue publicly.