Updated: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter block President Trump following Washington violence

Social platforms take action as President's inflammatory posts provoke fears of ongoing violence and disruption in response to US election results

Facebook and Instagram have blocked US President Donald Trump’s posts for at least two weeks and Twitter has disabled the outgoing President's account in response to the violet attack that erupted across Washington DC and the US Capitol last week.

Both Facebook and Twitter yesterday initially President Trump from their platforms for 24 hours on 6 January 2021 for inflammatory posts responding to both the violence and storming of the US Congress, and continued allegations against the legitimacy of the recent US elections across their respective platforms.

For Facebook, the decision was made after two policy violations were assessed to have been made. On Twitter, several Trump postings were blocked for violating Twitter rules around interfering in elections or civic processes. Snapchat also blocked President Trump, citing its concerns in the wake of the riots in Washington, while YouTube removed a video post from Trump where he told those rioters storming Congress that “we love you”.  

In a post dated 7 January 2021, Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, said the shocking events over the preceeding 24 hours demonstrated President Trump “intended to use his remaining time in office to undermine the peaceful and lawful transition of power” to confirmed successor, Joe Biden. Given these fears of further inciting violence, Facebook has extended the block on President Trump up to and including 20 January 2021, the date set for the inauguration of Joe Biden and his VP, Kamala Harris.

“His [Trump’s] decision to use his platform to condone rather than condemn the actions of his supporters at the Capitol building has rightly disturbed people in the US and around the world,” Zuckerberg stated. “We removed these statements yesterday because we judged that their effect – and likely their intent – would be to provoke further violence.

“Following the certification of the election results by Congress, the priority for the whole country must now be to ensure that the remaining 13 days and the days after inauguration pass peacefully and in accordance with established democratic norms.”  

Having initially blocked Trump's posts, Twitter briefly allowed the US President to post a video on its platform where he agreed to the election results being certified and called for calm and a smooth transition as a new administration is inaugurated on 20 January. However, the post quickly garnered divided feedback, with several Twitter users suggesting it retains ongoing falsehoods and revisionist history, including false claims of immediately calling up the National Guard.

On 8 January, Twitter confirmed it was permanently suspending @readonaldtrump due to the risk of further incitement of violence. The company detailed two of the most recent posts relating to Trump's decision not to attend the inaugural ceremony and the 75 million people who voted for him, violated its policies and presented significant risk of inciting additional violent acts.

"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 6 January 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 mobilised by different audiences, including to incite violence, as well as in the context of the pattern of behavior from this account in recent weeks," Twitter stated.

"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."

In Facebook’s defence, Zuckerberg stated over several years, President Trump had used the platform in a way consistent with its usage rules, even as he noted the company had at times removed content or labelled posts when they violated policies.

“But the current context is now fundamentally different, involving use of our platform to incite violent insurrection against a democratically elected government,” Zuckerberg continued. “We believe the risks of allowing the President to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great. Therefore, we are extending the block we have placed on his Facebook and Instagram accounts indefinitely and for at least the next two weeks until the peaceful transition of power is complete.”

In addition, Facebook highlighted several other policy changes, including updating labels on posts that attempt to delegitimise the election results. The new text reads: Joe Biden has been elected President with results that were certified by all 50 states. The US has laws, procedures, and established institutions to ensure the peaceful transfer of power after an election.’

Facebook said it is also enforcing action and bans on hate groups, including the Proud Boys, and has removed more than 600 militarised social movements from the platform. 

Despite delays to the process caused by the shocking violence yesterday, US Congress has now officially ratified the results of the US election and proclaimed Joe Biden as the next US President.

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, follow our regular updates via CMO Australia's Linkedin company page, or join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia.

 

 

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