The Effects of Online Content Moderation: Evidence from President Trump's Account Deletion
37 Pages Posted: 11 Dec 2022
Date Written: December 7, 2022
We study the effects of online content moderation on user behavior in the context of a prominent case study: the deletion of President Donald Trump's Twitter account on January 8th, 2021. We provide four key findings. First, the toxicity of tweets sent by Trump followers relative to a representative sample of US Twitter users dropped by around 25% after the account deletion. Second, this effect is larger for pro-Trump tweets and Republican users. Third, Trump's suspension reduced the total number of tweets, suggesting a drop in engagement. Fourth, we find effects on individuals who did not follow Trump directly but followed somebody that did, suggesting network spillovers. This evidence suggests that removing a prominent, polarizing individual can reduce the toxicity of online discourse.
Keywords: social media, content moderation, hate speech
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