Twitter and Facebook said Wednesday they would suspend President Donald Trump’s account after continuing to make false claims about the results of the 2020 US presidential election.
Twitter said it would put Trump’s account on hold for 12 hours once he removes the tweets in question. In addition, the company warned that a violation by Trump of company rules “will result in the @ realDonaldTrump account being permanently banned”.
Facebook said it would lock Trump’s account for 24 hours and prevent him from posting on the service. Facebook’s own Instagram also blocks Trump’s account there.
“We have assessed two policy violations against President Trump’s page that will result in a 24-hour function block, which means he will no longer be able to post on the platform during that time,” Facebook said in a statement.
Twitter removed three tweets from Trump so that they are no longer visible to users. This is the first time the company has removed tweets from Trump for reasons other than copyright removal, the company confirmed.
Among the tweets removed was one with a video of Trump addressing the Washington rioters. In his recorded testimony, Trump falsely claimed the election was “stolen” before asking the rioters to go home.
The video was also removed from Facebook and YouTube.
“This is an emergency situation and we are taking appropriate immediate action, including removing President Trump’s video,” said Guy Rosen, vice president of integrity for Facebook, in a tweet. “We removed it because we felt it would help rather than reduce the risk of persistent violence.”
Facebook announced further steps on Wednesday evening. This includes finding and removing content praising or supporting the storming of the Capitol, appeals to move weapons to locations across the country, photos or videos of the rioters, calls for additional protests and any attempts to increase violence in the coming days stage.
Facebook said it will update the label it places on content that tries to de-legitimize election results.
“Joe Biden was elected president with results that were confirmed by all 50 states. The US has laws, procedures and established institutions to ensure the peaceful transfer of power after an election,” the updated Facebook text said.
Google’s YouTube said it removed the video because it violated guidelines that widespread fraud altered the outcome of the 2020 US election. However, copies of this video will be accepted “if uploaded with additional context and sufficient educational, documentary, scientific or artistic value”.
Twitter initially restricted Trump’s tweet containing the recorded statement before the tweet was later removed.
Twitter previously announced that it would “take action” on any content that calls for violence in relation to the riots taking place in Washington.
“Let’s be clear: threats and calls to violence have no place on Twitter and we will enforce our guidelines accordingly,” a company spokesman said in a statement.
In addition, the company said it will severely restrict exposure to tweets tagged with its Civic Integrity Policy, which will not allow Twitter users to use the service to manipulate or disrupt elections or other civic processes.
“We are also reviewing other escalated enforcement measures and will keep the public informed of important developments,” the company tweeted.
Previously, Facebook said it is “actively reviewing and removing content that violates these rules”.
“The violent protests in today’s Capitol are a shame,” said Facebook spokesman Andy Stone in a statement. “We prohibit incitement and demand violence on our platform.”
The statements come as rioters broke through the U.S. Capitol in support of President Donald Trump and forced the legislature to evacuate.
Twitter is increasingly being asked to close the president’s account or take other extreme measures. Former Facebook security chief Alex Stamos said it was time for Twitter and Facebook to cut Trump off.
“Twitter and Facebook have to cut it,” said Stamos. “There are no longer any legitimate stocks and labeling is not enough.”
Chris Sacca, an early investor in the company, tweeted, “You have blood on your hands, @jack and Zuck,” referring to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
“You’ve been rationalizing this terror for four years. Incitement to violent treason is not free speech. If you work in these companies, it’s up to you too. Turn it off.”
The ADL issued a statement calling on social media companies to suspend Trump’s accounts “as soon as possible”.
– CNBC’s Jennifer Elias contributed to this report.
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