This week, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., called on Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey to boot President Donald Trump from the social media platform for violating its rules — namely, harassing others and promoting violence. Harris is right that Trump’s tweets denigrating the White House whistleblower, accusing political opponents of treason and warning of a civil war if he is removed from office are abhorrent. If they inspire others to act violently, as past statements by the president have done, they may well be dangerous. But as tempting as it may be to try to silence the president’s salvos, doing so is neither achievable nor wise.

As a legal matter, Twitter is allowed to disable the president’s account. A private company can make its own rules and is not subject to the First Amendment, which constrains only government. And Twitter has on occasion barred prominent users, such as Infowars’s Alex Jones, who was banished for spreading disinformation and inciting violence.

Suzanne Nossel is chief executive officer of PEN America. Summer Lopez is senior director of Free Expression Programs at PEN America.

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