Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg Thursday banned the account of President Donald Trump indefinitely and for at least the next two weeks for using the platform to “incite violent insurrection against a democratically elected government.”
“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,” Zuckerberg said in Facebook post.
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It’s the strongest stance yet by the social media giant as the sector weathers intense criticism as it attempts to deal with the events of yesterday, when a storm of Trump supported broke into the Capitol during hours of chaos that shuttered Congress as lawmakers attempted to certify the election of Joe Biden.
Twitter banned Trump for 12 hours yesterday pending removal of three incendiary tweets from throughout the day, one including a video where he called the rioters “very special.” It said the account could be permanently suspended if the outgoing president continues to violate its policies on inciting violence and misinformation. Trump has 88 million followers on Twitter and 35 million on Facebook.
Snapchat locked the president’s account yesterday indefinitely.
A stream of tech executives, Hollywood players and politicians — from early Facebook investor and Elevation Partners founder Roger McNamee to former Democratic presidential hopeful Andrew Yang and Sacha Baron Cohen — are blasting the social media platforms for enabling Trump over time in the long lead-up to the violence in Washington, D.C. The so-far insoluble issue is that for-profit social media, which lives on advertising, needs to engage users — and hate speech coupled with misinformation is extremely engaging.
Facebook’s move today is “very important and I comment [them] for doing that, but I don’t think it solves the problem. They allowed this kind of behavior to build for so long,” McNamee told CNBC Thursday.
Also Thursday, e-commerce provider Shopify took websites run by the Trump campaign and Trump Organization offline in response to the riot, according to news reports.
Zuckerberg’s Facebook post:
“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.
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. 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. 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.
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.”
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