Social Media Neuters Trump’s Accounts After Fans Storm Capitol
Social media companies have moved swiftly to block posts by Donald Trump in the wake of extraordinary scenes in the US capital that have left four people dead.
Twitter and Facebook both blocked the outgoing President’s accounts following policy violations, removing posts which repeated baseless allegations of election fraud and praised his followers – men and women who at the time were storming Capitol Hill.
Although Twitter has been flagging Trump’s repeated claims of fraud, which he says cost him victory last November, this marks an escalation in its actions.
“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,” it said in a statement on the platform.
“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.”
More worrying for the former reality TV star is that Twitter said it will permanently suspend Trump’s account if he violates Twitter rules in the future.
He currently has 88.7 million followers on the social media platform, which has been a key tool over the past for years for a President that prefers one-way communication with his fanbase to difficult media interviews.
Elsewhere, Facebook and Instagram both locked Trump’s accounts for 24 hours and the former removed a video in which he praised the protesters as ‘patriots.’ YouTube also removed the video.
Facebook has said it is also looking to remove any other content on the platform that may have incited the violence and has banned the #StormtheCapitol hashtag, although some reports suggest that “Stop The Steal” Facebook events and groups remain live.
As events have proven, social media companies still struggle to take down offensive and dangerous content in time, as they must balance the right to free speech with their other commitments to the rule of law and the safety of users.
In the meantime, lawmakers have since returned to Congress to confirm Joe Biden’s victory last November, with some calling for Trump’s impeachment over the incident.