Facebook and YouTube both removed a video posted by Donald Trump, in which he addressed the rioters who descended on Washington D.C. as Congress convened to certify the results of the November election. In the one-minute clip, the president told his supporters to “go home” while continuing to insist the election had been “fraudulent.” He referred to the rioters as “very special” people.
Facebook’s VP of Integrity Guy Rosen called the events “an emergency situation” and said the social network was acting because “we believe it contributes to rather than diminishes the risk of ongoing violence.” Previously, the video appeared on Facebook with a label that read “the US has laws, procedures, and established institutions to ensure the integrity of our elections.” Facebook also appeared to remove a subsequent post from Trump, which told his followers to “remember this day forever.”
This is an emergency situation and we are taking appropriate emergency measures, including removing President Trump's video. We removed it because on balance we believe it contributes to rather than diminishes the risk of ongoing violence.
— Guy Rosen (@guyro) January 6, 2021
In a statement, a YouTube spokesperson said the video broke the companies rules around “content that alleges widespread fraud or errors changed the outcome of the 2020 U.S. Election.” The company said it will allow other copies of the clip to remain up “if uploaded with additional context and sufficient educational, documentary, scientific, or artistic (EDSA) value.”
The video’s removal was a new step for Facebook, which has previously been reluctant to restrict the president’s posts. A company spokesperson said that the events in the Capitol would be covered under its “Dangerous Individuals and Organizations” policy, and that it would take down posts with messages of support for the rioters and their actions.
“The violent protests in the Capitol today are a disgrace. We prohibit incitement and calls for violence on our platform,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement. “We are actively reviewing and removing any content that breaks these rules.”Additionally, the company said it would remove posts encouraging an armed response and restrict comments on group posts with comments inciting violence and hate speech.
Twitter initially restricted the video on its platform, adding new labels warning the clip posed a “risk of violence,” and prevented interactions with the tweet. Later, the company appeared to remove it, along with at least two other tweets from the president.