Twitter and Facebook have both locked U.S. President Donald Trump’s account after removing a video of the president downplaying the chaos at the U.S. Capitol and repeating unfounded claims of election fraud.
The riot began Wednesday afternoon, after Trump urged supporters to march to the Capitol where congressional deliberations over challenges to Joe Biden's Electoral College victory were ongoing.
In the video, hours after rioters breached the building and replaced American flags with Trump banners, he told them that although they were "very special people" and he backed their cause, they should "go home in peace."
Twitter initially blocked users from sharing the video, instead labelling it with a notice that read, “this claim of election fraud is disputed, and this Tweet cannot be replied to, retweeted or liked due to a risk of violence.”
Not long after users began decrying the decision to leave the video online at all, it and two other tweets were deleted.
Associated Press reported that Twitter said the Trump account deleted the posts, and if he had not, they threatened to extend his suspension.
“As a result of the unprecedented and ongoing violent situation in Washington, D.C., we have required the removal of three @realDonaldTrump Tweets that were posted earlier today for repeated and severe violations of our Civic Integrity policy,” read a statement issued by Twitter Safety Wednesday evening.
That policy states, “you may not use Twitter’s services for the purpose of manipulating or interfering in elections or other civic processes.”
Under that policy, Twitter noted that it has locked Trump’s account for 12 hours following the removal of the tweet. If they are not removed, his account will remain locked.
Though the unprecedented move has been praised by some, many are calling on Twitter to remove Trump’s accounts permanently.
“Retweet if you’re glad @Twitter suspended Trump’s account but think they should still delete it,” read one Tweet which quickly gained thousand retweets.
Twitter users also expressed outrage over the company’s failure to identify and remove accounts linked to pro-Trump conspiracy theory groups that regularly incite violence, including ANTIFA and QAnon.
Facebook and YouTube were the first to remove the video, before Twitter’s decision.
Guy Rosen, vice president of integrity at Facebook, said in a statement that “this is an emergency situation and we are taking appropriate emergency measures,” which included removing Trump’s video.
“We removed it because on balance we believe it contributes to rather than diminishes the risk of ongoing violence."
Hours later, Facebook also blocked Trump from posting for 24 hours, a first for the tech company.
“We've assessed two policy violations against President Trump's Page which will result in a 24-hour feature block, meaning he will lose the ability to post on the platform during that time," read a statement from Facebook.
The move comes after outrage from users who have long called for Trump's accounts to be silenced.
Trump’s account remains active on Facebook. But calls for his removal are growing.
“He's been using your platform to incite violence for YEARS. The question is: is there any limit to which he can do so before you will simply ban him? Facebook and Twitter ARE the proverbial crowded theaters in which he will continue yelling "FIRE" for as long as you all let him,” read one user’s reaction.
This isn’t the first time Facebook has taken action against the president’s online claims. In August, the company took down a video in which Trump stated that children were “almost immune” to COVID-19.
Twitter has also taken action against Trump’s posts in the past, including labelling many of his tweets on election night as “false or misleading” due to unfounded claims of election fraud.
As a result of the unprecedented and ongoing violent situation in Washington, D.C., we have required the removal of three @realDonaldTrump Tweets that were posted earlier today for repeated and severe violations of our Civic Integrity policy. https://t.co/k6OkjNG3bM— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) January 7, 2021