U.S. President Donald Trump returned to Twitter on Thursday with a video confirming that Joe Biden would be the next U.S. President as other social media outlets, including Facebook, blocked his accounts over concerns that his News could spark further violent protests.
Twitter unlocked the President’s Twitter account @realDonaldTrump, who has 88 million followers after Trump removed three tweets that break the rules. His first post on the platform included a video in which he said he was focused on a peaceful change of power, which was viewed 1.4 million times within 15 minutes of posting.
Tech companies have struggled to tackle the president’s unsubstantiated claims about the November 3 US presidential election after hundreds of Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol in riot, resulting in four deaths.
Trump’s accounts will remain banned on Facebook and Instagram for at least two weeks and possibly indefinitely. Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, said in a post on Thursday that the risk of allowing him to use the platform was “just too great”.
Facebook’s move was the president’s most significant sanction by a large social media company. The live streaming platform Twitch and the photo sharing service Snap have issued similar bans.
“The shocking events of the past 24 hours clearly show that President Donald Trump wants to use his remaining term in office to undermine the peaceful and lawful transfer of power to his elected successor, Joe Biden,” Zuckerberg said in his Facebook post.
White House spokesman Judd Deere responded that the companies censored the president at a critical time for the country. “Big tech is out of control,” he said.
Zuckerberg said the block on Trump’s Facebook page, which has 35 million followers, would last at least until Biden took office on Jan. 20.
At an all-hand meeting Thursday, Zuckerberg told staff that he viewed it as important political leaders “to lead by example and ensure we put the nation first”.
“What we have seen is that the president did the opposite and instead fanned the flames of those who believe they should turn to violence to reverse the election result,” he said, according to audio of the Reuters comments.
Social media companies were under pressure to receive misinformation from the police about the US elections on their platforms, including from the president. Trump and his allies have been ramping up unsubstantiated allegations of election fraud for months, and the president has urged protesters to go to Capitol Hill. Both Republicans and Democrats said he was responsible for the violence that resulted.
Amazon Twitch has deactivated Trump’s channel due to “exceptional circumstances and the president’s incendiary rhetoric”. A spokeswoman said the company will reevaluate Trump’s account after he leaves office.
Shopify e-commerce platform is shutting down service to Trump-related stores for violations of the Acceptable Use Policy and is causing e-commerce sites to take both the campaign and the Trump organization offline.
Blocked “long overdue”
Facebook’s decision follows bans by government officials in India and Myanmar in recent years to promote violence. A Facebook spokesman said the company had never blocked a current president, prime minister or head of state before.
In a video posted to Facebook, Twitter and YouTube on Wednesday and later deleted from the platforms after receiving millions of views, Trump reiterated election fraud allegations when he told protesters to go home.
Civil rights groups, including Color of Change, have urged social media companies to permanently ban Trump from the platforms on which he has repeatedly violated guidelines.
The Anti-Defamation League praised Facebook’s move, calling it “an obvious first step,” while the NAACP said in a statement that the move was a “long overdue” gesture that “sounds hollow”.
Facebook has criticized the exclusion of politicians’ posts and ads from its third party fact-checking program and has repeatedly stated that it does not want to be “the arbiter of the truth.” The company has started flagging some statements from Trump in the past few months but wondered why it hadn’t earlier cracked down on violent rhetoric that had spread over the past few weeks as organizers were planning the rally online.
Democratic Representative Bennie Thompson, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said in a statement he was “deeply frustrated that a group of domestic terrorists stormed the Capitol” for Facebook to take action and wondered “if the decision is opportunistic be”. motivated by news of a democratically controlled congress. “
Democratic Senator Mark Warner, the new chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said the social media actions didn’t go far enough.
“These platforms have served as the central organizational infrastructure for violent, right-wing extremist groups and militia movements for several years, helping them to recruit, organize, coordinate and, in many cases (particularly with regard to YouTube), generate profits from their violent, extremist content” he said in a statement.
YouTube, owned by Google by Alphabet, said Thursday that any channel that posts videos with false claims about the election results will be temporarily banned from uploading or live streaming.
YouTube didn’t respond to a question on whether Trump’s account would be banned in the same way as Facebook, while a Twitter spokesman said it would continue to “assess the situation in real time, including examining site activity and what Twitter said. ” “” He said Twitter would inform the public if it needed to “escalate” its approach.
© Thomson Reuters 2020
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