Facebook and Instagram will keep President Trump’s account locked until at least January 20th for fear that more violence will ensue following Wednesday’s storming of the US Capitol building in Washington, DC, by his supporters.
The decision, which was announced in a Facebook post by company CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday, will likely put pressure on Twitter, Trump’s favorite social media platform, to do the same.
In an extraordinary post, Zuckerberg accused Trump of using Facebook ‘to incite violent insurrection against a democratically elected government.’
He said the president used his Facebook page ‘to condone rather than condemn the actions of his supporters at the Capitol building’ and that allowing him to freely post in the final 13 days of his term would pose too great a risk.
‘The shocking events of the last 24 hours clearly demonstrate that President Donald Trump intends to use his remaining time in office to undermine the peaceful and lawful transition of power to his elected successor, Joe Biden,’ Zuckerberg wrote.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (left) announced on Thursday that President Trump’s (right) accounts on both Facebook and Instagram will be locked until at least January 20th
In an extraordinary post, Zuckerberg accused Trump of using Facebook ‘to incite violent insurrection against a democratically elected government’
Four people died on Wednesday after a mob of Trump supporters stormed the barricades and breached the US Capitol building in Washington, DC, as a joint session of Congress convened to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s victory
Twitter suspended Trump’s account for 12 hours on Wednesday and for the first time deleted his tweets after he praised the mob who stormed Congress and said he ‘loved’ them. His Twitter account will come back online on Thursday.
YouTube and Facebook also followed suit in removing the posts, with Facebook and Instagram also blocking Trump from their platform for 24 hours.
Snapchat blocked him on Wednesday morning, before he filmed the video. The platform said their locking of his account was indefinite.
DailyMail.com has reached out to Twitter seeking comment on whether it intends to follow Facebook’s lead.
In the 13 days left in his presidency, Trump will not be able to communicate to his more than 35.2 million followers on Facebook.
The president has more than 24.6 million followers on Instagram, a Facebook-owned property.
‘His 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,’ the statement by Zuckerberg read.
‘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.
‘Over the last several years, we have allowed President Trump to use our platform consistent with our own rules, at times removing content or labeling his posts when they violate our policies.
In the 13 days left in his presidency, Trump will not be able to communicate to his more than 35.2 million followers on Facebook
‘We did this because we believe that the public has a right to the broadest possible access to political speech, even controversial speech.
‘But the current context is now fundamentally different, involving use of our platform to incite violent insurrection against a democratically elected government.’
Zuckerberg concluded: ‘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.’
Zuckerberg’s relationship with Trump has seen its ups and downs.
The Facebook chief has been fiercely criticized by both his own employees as well as wide swaths of the public for not cracking down harder on the president’s most controversial posts.
In September 2019, Trump posted a photo of him shaking hands with Zuckerberg during a meeting in the Oval Office.
‘Nice meeting with Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook in the Oval Office today,’ the president wrote at the time.
Zuckerberg and Trump had dinner at the White House in the fall of 2019. The two men were joined by billionaire tech investor Peter Thiel.
Thiel, one of Trump’s earliest supporters, was also one of Facebook’s initial investors. He remains a member of the company’s board of directors.
Zuckerberg met with Trump and other Republican lawmakers as well as prominent conservative commentators in recent years in an effort to ease censorship concerns.
Critics of Facebook have accused Zuckerberg of currying favor with Trump in order to head off any possible regulatory action by the federal government as it relates to the company’s business practices.
Facebook and other tech giants like Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and Apple have been accused by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle as well as consumer advocates of wielding too much power.
In September 2019, Trump posted a photo of him shaking hands with Zuckerberg during a meeting in the Oval Office. ‘Nice meeting with Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook in the Oval Office today,’ the president wrote at the time
Last month, the Trump administration and 48 states and districts sued Facebook, accusing it of abusing its market power in social networking to crush smaller competitors.
The lawsuit sought remedies that could include a forced spinoff of the social network’s Instagram and WhatsApp messaging services.
The landmark antitrust lawsuits, announced by the Federal Trade Commission and New York Attorney General Letitia James, mark the second major government offensive against seemingly untouchable tech behemoths.
The Justice Department sued Google in October for abusing its dominance in online search and advertising – the government’s most significant attempt to buttress competition since its historic case against Microsoft two decades ago.
Amazon and Apple also have been under investigation in Congress and by federal authorities for alleged anticompetitive conduct.
The FTC said Facebook has engaged in a ‘a systematic strategy’ to eliminate its competition, including by purchasing smaller up-and-coming rivals like Instagram in 2012 and WhatsApp in 2014.
James echoed that in a press conference, saying Facebook ‘used its monopoly power to crush smaller rivals and snuff out competition, all at the expense of everyday users.’
The FTC fined Facebook $5billion in 2019 for privacy violations and instituted new oversight and restrictions on its business.
The fine was the largest the agency has ever levied on a tech company, although it had no visible impact on Facebook’s business.
Facebook called the government actions ‘revisionist history’ that punishes successful businesses and noted that the FTC cleared the Instagram and WhatsApp acquisitions years ago.
‘The government now wants a do-over, sending a chilling warning to American business that no sale is ever final,’ Facebook general counsel Jennifer Newstead said in a statement that echoed the company’s response to a recent congressional antitrust probe.
Facebook is the world’s biggest social network with 2.7 billion users and a company with a market value of nearly $800billion whose CEO, Zuckerberg, is the world’s fifth-richest individual and the most public face of Big Tech swagger.
The actions by Zuckerberg’s company as well as other social media platforms in limiting Trump for the final 13 days of his presidency is likely to once again fuel suspicions of an anti-conservative bias among the large tech firms.
Trump’s social media posts and videos in the aftermath of the violence at the US Capitol on Wednesday were slammed for their apparent mixed messaging as the president declined to condemn the mob that breached the congressional campus.
One of the deleted tweets read: ‘These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long. Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!’
Donald Trump finally addressed his mob of supporters in a video Wednesday where he continued to claim the ‘election was stolen’
In the deleted video, he poured more fuel on the fire, claiming the election was ‘stolen’ and telling the rioters that he ‘loved’ them.
Facebook also barred its employees from discussing the Capitol Hill rioting on internal message boards, where tech company workers were demanding the president be permanently banned from the site.
In his video, Trump told rioting supporters: ‘I know your pain. I know you’re hurt. We had an election that was stolen from us.
‘It was a landslide election, and everyone knows it, especially the other side, but you have to go home now. We have to have peace. We have to have law and order. We have to respect our great people in law and order. We don’t want anybody hurt.’
Trump said it was ‘a very tough period of time,’ and emphasized his own personal loss.
‘There’s never been a time like this where such a thing happened, where they could take it away from all of us, from me, from you, from our country.
‘This was a fraudulent election, but 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. You’ve seen what happens. You see the way others are treated that are so bad and so evil. I know how you feel. But go home and go home at peace.’
In a shocking tweet, Donald Trump sent mixed messaged Wednesday regarding the anarchy in Washington, saying ‘Remember this day forever!’ and calling the rioters ‘great patriots’
In the third tweet deleted by Twitter, Trump attacked Mike Pence for lacking ‘courage’
The third deleted tweet, posted several hours before the others, attacked Mike Pence for failing to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s win.
‘Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify,’ he tweeted.
‘USA demands the truth!’
The video and tweets were removed on Wednesday night.
Twitter showed an image saying: ‘This tweet is no longer available’, and linked back to their page explaining their rational for blocking or putting warnings on tweets.
Police deployed tear gas at protesters who refused to step away from barriers outside the White House
Twitter said it had removed the tweets for violating their ‘Civic Integrity policy’.
‘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,’ the social media company said.
‘This means that the account of @realDonaldTrump will be locked for 12 hours following the removal of these Tweets. If the Tweets are not removed, the account will remain locked.’
A Facebook spokesman said: ‘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.’
Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram, said: ‘We are locking President Trump’s Instagram account for 24 hours as well.’
Andy Stone, another Facebook spokesman, earlier told CNN Business: ‘The violent protests in the Capitol today are a disgrace.’
He added: ‘We prohibit incitement and calls for violence on our platform. We are actively reviewing and removing any content that breaks these rules.’
Farshad Shadloo, YouTube spokesperson, said in an email to Insider: ‘We removed a video posted this afternoon to Donald Trump’s channel that violated our policies regarding content that alleges widespread fraud or errors changed the outcome of the 2020 U.S.
‘We do allow copies of this video if uploaded with additional context and sufficient educational, documentary, scientific, or artistic (EDSA) value.’
And Rachel Racusen told The Information that Trump’s Snapchat account was also locked.
‘We can confirm that earlier today we locked President Trump’s Snapchat account,’ she said in a statement.
Paramedics and protesters work together to transport a wounded man on a barrier near the Capitol
The mostly maskless crowd flooded the halls of the Capitol with little resistance from Capitol Police
A protester walks through Congress carrying Nancy Pelosi’s lectern after storming the Capitol
The DC National Guard was deployed to the streets to help enforce a 6pm curfew
He will not be able to share new content until Snap decides to lift the restriction, she said, noting that his account was locked on Wednesday before he posted the video about the ‘stolen’ election.
Twitter, Facebook and YouTube have previously labeled content posted by the president with warnings over the last year, in particular his claims about election fraud and COVID-19.
Throughout the 2020 presidential election, the platforms placed labels on dozens of Trump’s tweets that made false or misleading claims about voter fraud.
However, this appears to be the first time Twitter flagged a tweet as posing ‘a risk of violence.’
Amid the violence, Facebook employees were surprised to see that the company froze at least three chat threads on the internal Workplace messaging network, according to BuzzFeed News.
Some of the employees at the Menlo Park, California-based social network expressed anger at Trump for the violence and discussed the next steps that the company needs to take, including removal of his account.
‘Donald Trump has directly incited a terror attack on Capitol Hill,’ one Facebook employee wrote in a chat that was later frozen.
‘We need to take down his account right now. This is not a moment for half measures.’
The employees received no explanation as to why the chat threads were frozen. DailyMail.com has reached out to Facebook for comment.
The internal discontent at Facebook reflects wider outrage at the tech giant as well as its competitors who are being urged to impose a total ban on Trump.
During the Trump presidency, Facebook employees have complained about what they perceived as CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s hands-off approach.
In June, employees were outraged over Zuckerberg’s refusal to remove a post in which the president spoke of ‘looting and shooting’ during the protesting that erupted in the wake of the police-involved death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
On May 29, as riots engulfed Minneapolis and unrest spread to other parts of the country, the president took to social media and wrote: ‘I can’t stand back & watch this happen to a great American City, Minneapolis. A total lack of leadership.
‘Either the very weak Radical Left Mayor, Jacob Frey, get his act together and bring the City under control, or I will send in the National Guard & get the job done right.
‘These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen.
‘Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way.
‘Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts.’
Twitter has banned the president from its platform for 12 hours
Facebook and Instagram have banned Trump for 24 hours from their platforms
Trump’s tweet was slapped with a disclaimer by Twitter, which flagged the president for violating the company’s rules about glorifying violence.
The phrase ‘when the looting starts, the shooting starts’ was made famous by Walter Headley, Miami’s chief of police who was known to be a racist and who used it when describing attempts to put down race riots in the late 1960s.
Trump told reporters that he was unaware of the racially charged history of the phrase.
In trying to clarify, the president later tweeted: ‘Looting leads to shooting, and that’s why a man was shot and killed in Minneapolis on Wednesday night – or look at what just happened in Louisville with 7 people shot.
‘I don’t want this to happen, and that’s what the expression put out last night means….
‘It was spoken as a fact, not as a statement.
‘It’s very simple, nobody should have any problem with this other than the haters, and those looking to cause trouble on social media.
‘Honor the memory of George Floyd!’
Unlike Facebook, Twitter also put a disclaimer on another tweet by Trump – this one about his claim that vote-by-mail initiatives are susceptible to voter fraud.
In response, Trump signed an executive order which threatens to remove legal protections that prevent social media companies from being sued over content posted by third parties.
Several Facebook employees resigned in protest over the decision not to remove the ‘looting and shooting’ post, and internal emails showed that most voted in a poll to demand that the company no longer allow unfettered free speech on its platform.
In a virtual town hall with employees, Zuckerberg defended the decision not to take down the post.
He said that he didn’t think that the post ‘read as a dog whistle for vigilante supporters to take justice into their own hands.’
The CEO said it was decided to leave up the post because ‘people need to know if the government is planning to deploy force.’
During the hyper-partisan Trump era, Facebook has come under fire from both liberals, who blame the social network for helping the president win election in 2016, and conservatives.
Liberals argue that Facebook allows the spread of disinformation that foments unrest and violence while conservatives have accused the platform of censoring their views.
Snapchat on Wednesday morning barred the president indefinitely from its site
One woman died on Wednesday when a mob of angry Trump supporters breached the Capitol and entered the House and Senate chambers.
The Senate was evacuated at 2.30pm.
There are more than 2,000 Capitol Police officers with special jurisdiction on Capitol Grounds. But they were overrun as protesters smashed through a window and penetrated the building.
Capitol Police were seen absorbing violent lunges by Trump supporters on the first floor of the Capitol building.
Police from neighboring Montgomery County, Maryland were also rushed to the Capitol vicinity, CNN reported.
Muriel Bowser, mayor of Washington DC, had already mobilized National Guard troops in advance of the pro-Trump rally billed as a ‘stop the steal event’ – although it coincided with the effort proscribed in law for Congress to count the votes of the Electoral College.
The entire D.C. National Guard was to be activated within hours, the Washington Post reported, after Bowser asked on duty guard to be sent to the Capitol.
Bowser also imposed a 6 pm curfew for Washington.