Twitter and Facebook suspend Trump’s accounts

Companies’ move on president’s social media posts comes after he encouraged rioters at the US Capitol

The US Capitol was put on lockdown as crowds protesting US president-elect Joe Biden's victory breached security barricades while Congress was debating the certification of Biden's electoral win over Donald Trump. Video: Reuters

 

Twitter and Facebook suspended Donald Trump’s accounts for the first time after he encouraged and supported rioters at the US Capitol.

Snap later joined them in blocking his ability to post to Snapchat.

Twitter required Mr Trump to delete certain posts after “repeated and severe” violations of its rules on election misinformation, including a video sending love to the violent uprising in Washington protesting his November loss to Joe Biden.

The same video was also removed by Google’s YouTube and helped tip the scales at Facebook, which said it is banning Trump’s page from posting for 24 hours and extended the block to its Instagram photo-sharing service as well.

“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,” Twitter wrote in a post on its site.

A spokesperson confirmed that Mr Trump has since deleted the tweets, which means he’ll regain his posting privileges after a 12-hour suspension.

Since November, the president has posted regularly without evidence that the presidential election was “rigged.” Twitter has labeled dozens of Mr Trump’s posts as disputed or misleading and Facebook flagged misleading election posts by pointing users to trusted news sites, but Wednesday was the first time the president has been kicked off either platform even temporarily.

Twitter threatened to ban Mr Trump entirely if he continues to break the rules.

“Future violations of the Twitter Rules, including our Civic Integrity or Violent Threats policies, will result in permanent suspension of the @realDonaldTrump account,” the company tweeted from its @TwitterSafety handle.

Most of the president’s Twitter messages appear simultaneously on Facebook, where they are spread widely among followers through sharing and commenting. The company recently started labeling misleading his posts with links to further context, such as information about Joe Biden’s election win, but has generally allowed users to continue to share and react to his posts until Wednesday’s temporary ban.

The video that Mr Trump was asked to remove on Twitter showed the president addressing rioters at the U.S. Capitol. Trump told them to “go home,” but also called the election result “fraudulent”.

Facebook, the world’s largest social network, said it’s appalled by the riots and is removing all praise of the insurrection at the Capitol, calls to bring weapons to certain locations across the United States and videos and photos from Capitol protesters.

Another Trump tweet that was blocked, which appeared as the violence unfolded, read, “These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously and viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly and unfairly treated for so long.”

Twitter has been under pressure for years to take a tougher stance against Mr Trump’s account, which he often uses to spread inflammatory attacks and misinformation. Calls for Twitter Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey to ban the president were widespread on Wednesday. – Bloomberg