Ayyyeee… What’s Goodie Everyone. So I got some tea and it involves Tech companies banning Donald Trump from their platforms after the civil unrest and riots in Washington D.C.
Twitter locked Donald Trump out of his account for the first time late Wednesday. The first big step the social media giant has taken against the president, on a day of social unrest and violence in Washington. The lockout, which will last for 12 hours, also included the removal of three tweets and a warning that Trump could be subject to a permanent suspension if he continues tweeting baseless conspiracy theories about the election and inciting violence.
Then Facebook followed after, blocking the president’s account for the first time for 24 hours for what it said were two policy violations, although it didn’t threaten permanent suspension. It also said it was blocking his Facebook owned Instagram account. The social media giants actions were the strongest volleys after a year of heightened tension between Silicon Valley and Trump. They came after months of struggling to combat baseless allegations of a stolen election long stoked by Trump and his allies.
Amid the increase of criticism, Facebook took the rare step of removing Trump’s video after hours of internal debate about the president’s actions, before blocking his account entirely. YouTube also removed the video, while Twitter similarly took aim at Trump throughout the day, flagging tweets that sent mixed messages about the events that had unfolded.
Trump’s online and offline rhetoric and behavior ultimately created a supportive mob later to breach the building, halting the House and Senate’s work and forcing Pence’s evacuation. The president soon returned to Twitter to encourage his supporters to stay “peaceful” but he did not ask them to leave until he did so in a video uploaded to the site later in the afternoon.
The president’s words also went far beyond Twitter, where he boasts more than 88 million followers, and other more traditional social media platforms. Trump supporters on lesser known sites have spent months egging on what they’ve called a “second civil war” against Democrats and the “deep state.” Many have boosted QAnon and other conspiracy theories suggesting that an uprising of covert military forces or civilian militias could help secure Trump’s presidency. The storming of the Capitol on Wednesday led many of those accounts to celebrate and call for further violence. As the jarring images of the rioting appeared on television, the pro Trump forum TheDonald.win hosted an online “watch party,” with thousands providing commentary and sharing live stream video links of the blitz.
The episode list Trump’s latest attempt to weaponize Twitter in the days after his defeat. Since Election Day, the president has attacked Biden, rejected his victory, floated widely disproved allegations about voter fraud and stirred his supporters to act. The antagonism much of it meted out with few repercussions from social media companies culminated in the dramatic confrontation Wednesday at the Capitol, which forced the District of Columbia to mandate a curfew and summon the National Guard.
Critics, especially Democratic lawmakers soon called on the company to suspend the president’s account, repeating their long-held belief that Silicon Valley should stop Trump from spreading harmful misinformation at viral scale. But Twitter at the time said its policies allow world leaders to share their views unfettered, a view the company has maintained even as Trump has intensified his rhetoric. The company’s refusal to remove Trump on Wednesday prompted Jonathan Greenblatt who is the CEO of the Anti Defamation League, to blast Trump for having “promoted sedition and incited violence.” He also called on Twitter and other social media companies to “suspend his accounts ASAP as they would do for anyone else advocating disinformation and promoting violence.”On Wednesday alone, Twitter labeled eight of Trump’s tweets as in “dispute.” In the face of growing pressure, it escalated its response by blocking retweeting and liking of the labeled tweets, as well as the ability to reply to them. Twitter then outright blocked two of Trump’s tweets.