Twitter, Facebook shut out Trump amid chaos in Capitol

Twitter locked Trump out of his account for 12 hours and said that future violations by Trump could result in a permanent suspension.

By Associated Press

In an unprecedented step, Facebook and Twitter suspended President Donald Trump from posting to their platforms Wednesday following the storming of the U.S. Capitol by his supporters.

Twitter locked Trump out of his account for 12 hours and said that future violations by Trump could result in a permanent suspension. The company required the removal of three of Trump’s tweets, including a short video in which he urged those supporters to “go home” while also repeating contentions about the integrity of the presidential election.

Trump’s account deleted those posts, Twitter said; had they remained, Twitter had threatened to extend his suspension.

Facebook and Instagram, which Facebook owns, followed up in the evening, announcing that Trump wouldn’t be able to post for 24 hours following two violations of its policies. The White House did not immediately offer a response to the actions.
Jennifer Grygiel, a Syracuse University communications professor and an expert on social media, maintained Wednesday’s events in Washington, D.C. are a direct result of Trump’s use of social media, and that the platforms should bear some responsibility for their inaction.

Trump posted that video more than two hours after protesters entered the Capitol, interrupting lawmakers meeting in an extraordinary joint session to confirm the Electoral College results and President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.

So far, YouTube has not taken similar action, although it said it also removed Trump’s video. But that video remained available as of Wednesday afternoon.

Guy Rosen, Facebook’s vice president of integrity, said on Twitter Wednesday that the video was removed because it “contributes to rather than diminishes the risk of ongoing violence.”

“This is an emergency situation and we are taking appropriate emergency measures, including removing President Trump’s video,” Rosen said on Twitter.

Twitter initially left the video up but blocked people from being able to retweet it or comment on it. Only later in the day did the platform delete it entirely.

Trump opened his video saying, “I know your pain. I know your hurt. But you have to go home now.”

After repeating claims about voter fraud affecting the election, Trump went on to say: “We can’t play into the hands of these people. We have to have peace. So go home. We love you. You’re very special.”

Republican lawmakers and previous administration officials had begged Trump to give a statement to his supporters to quell the violence. He posted his video as authorities struggled to take control of a chaotic situation at the Capitol that led to the evacuation of lawmakers and the death of at least one person.