ArchivesReutersTwitter, Facebook and Snap have temporarily shut down the accounts of US President Donald Trump, as tech giants scramble to curb his presidential election claims, amid riots in Washington, DC
Twitter concealed three tweets of Trump, “as a result of the unprecedented and continuous violent situation in Washington,” after demonstrators supporting the outgoing president stormed the US Capitol building, in an attempt to force Congress to block the approval of Democrat Joe Biden’s election.
For months, Trump and his allies exaggerated allegations of presidential election fraud, leading to a demonstration and storming of the Congress building on Wednesday.
After the situation escalated, Trump said in a tweet that was later removed by Twitter, that the storming of the building was a natural reaction. He also blamed Vice President Mike Pence for his lack of “the courage” to pursue allegations of election fraud.
Twitter closed Trump’s account for up to 12 hours, after deleting those tweets and a video clip in which Trump claimed that the presidential election was rigged, and urged protesters to return to their homes.
Facebook and YouTube, owned by Alphabet’s Google, removed the video as well.
Facebook later announced that it would shut down Trump’s page for 24 hours, with Vice President of Integrity Jay Rosen saying that Trump’s video “contributes to the risk of continuing violence rather than reducing it.”
The company said it would ban calls to bring weapons to locations across the country, and remove any support for events on the Capitol building.
Violent rhetoric and posts about weapons have escalated dramatically in the past three weeks on social media platforms, as groups have planned to demonstrate, including white nationalists and enthusiasts of the large-scale conspiracy theory “QAnon”.
Twitter and Facebook worked against the main QAnon accounts last year, but influencers were able to direct their followers to new platforms like Parler and closed channels like those on Telegram, where their behavior was difficult to track.
As the Capitol siege escalated, civil rights groups, including the Anti-Defamation League, called on social media companies to permanently suspend Trump accounts.
The former Facebook chief of security, Alex Stamos, tweeted: “Twitter and Facebook should dismiss him.”
Some Facebook employees joined calls to close Trump accounts, and demanded transparency from executives about how they handled the situation.
One employee wrote, “Can we get some courage and actual action from the leadership in response to this behavior? Your silence is at least disappointing, and criminal at worst.”
The internal communications managers quickly closed comments on the topics.
Four people were killed in the Capitol building during the chaos of violent protests that erupted on Wednesday, including a woman, a US Air Force veteran, who was shot dead inside the building.