Facebook extends ban on Donald Trump posting for ‘at least’ two weeks

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has announced the block placed on President Donald Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts yesterday will last “indefinitely”, and “at least” until he leaves office.

“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,” Zuckerberg said.

“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 labelling 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.”

Facebook and Twitter both temporarily banned Trump from posting content amid the fallout from the Washington DC riot yesterday.

In a brief statement, Twitter said the “unprecedented and ongoing violent situation” in Washington DC sparked by pro-Trump rioters warranted action.

“We have required the removal of three @realDonaldTrump tweets that were posted earlier today for repeated and severe violations of our Civic Integrity policy,” it said.

“This means that the account of @realDonaldTrump will be locked for 12 hours following the removal of these tweets. If the tweets are not removed, the account will remain locked.

“Future violations of the Twitter Rules, including our Civic Integrity or Violent Threats policies, will result in permanent suspension of the @realDonaldTrump account.”

That 12-hour period expired at 7am local time today. As the time of writing, Trump has yet to tweet anything.

Shortly after Twitter’s announcement, Facebook issued a brief statement saying it too was locking the president’s account for a 24-hour period after two “policy violations”.

It came after a series of posts from the president were censored or deleted entirely by the two social media giants.

Hours after a large number of his supporters staged an extraordinary siege on the US Capitol building in Washington DC, Trump posted a brief video message.

In it, he told rioters to “go home” after President-elect Joe Biden demanded he do more to bring an end to the violence.

But in the minute-long video on Twitter, Trump still called the election he lost fraudulent.

“I know your pain. I know you’re hurt. We had an election that was stolen from us. It was a landslide election, and everyone knows it, especially the other side,” he said.

“But you have to go home now. We have to have peace. We have to have law and order, we have to respect our great people in law and order. We don’t want anybody hurt.

The video was his third attempt at making a statement on the storming of the US Capitol building after two tweets where he told supporters to respect law enforcement and remain peaceful.

When it aired some cable news anchors expressed they weren’t comfortable showing the video because of Trump’s continued claim the election was stolen and his failure to condemn the actions of those who stormed the Capitol.

Facebook’s vice-president of integrity Guy Rosen has said the video was going to be removed from the social media platform.

“This is an emergency situation,” Rosen wrote on Twitter.

“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.”

“It’s a very tough period of time,” Trump said in the video, but he wasn’t talking about the still surging coronavirus pandemic or the growing divisions in American society.

“There’s never been a time like this, where such a thing happened, where they could take it away from all of us – from me, from you, from our country.

“This was a fraudulent election. But we can’t play into the hands of these people. We have to have peace.

“So go home, we love you, you’re very special, you’ve seen what happens, you see the way others are treated that are so bad and so evil. I know how you feel. But go home, and go home in peace.”

Twitter instantly reacted to his message, barring people from replying or liking his tweet.

Two follow-up tweets from MTrump were deleted entirely by the social media platform.

In one, he sensationally said the riots happened because the election was “unceremoniously and viciously stripped away” from him.

He wrote: “These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long. Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!”

Earlier Biden demanded Trump go on TV and “demand an end” to the “siege”.

“I initially was going to talk about the economy, but all of you have been watching what I’ve been watching,” Biden said.

“At this hour, our democracy is under unprecedented assault. Unlike anything we’ve seen in modern times. An assault on the citadel of liberty, the Capitol itself. An assault on the people’s representatives and the police sworn to protect them. And the public servants who work at the heart of our republic.

“An assault on the rule of law. On the most sacred of American undertakings – the doing of the people’s business.

“Let me be very clear. The scenes of chaos at the Capitol do not reflect a true America, do not represent who we are. What we’re seeing is a small number of extremists dedicated to lawlessness.

“It borders on sedition. And it must end, now.

“I call on this mob to pull back and allow the work of democracy to go forward.

“The words of a president matter, no matter how good or bad that president is. At their best, they can inspire. At their worst, they can incite.

“Therefore, I call on President Trump to go on national television now, to fulfil his oath and defend the Constitution, and demand an end to this siege.

“It’s not protest, it’s insurrection. The world is watching. Like so many other Americans, I am genuinely shocked and saddened that our nation has come to such a dark moment.

“Through war and strife, America has endured much. And we will endure here and we will prevail again.

“The work of the moment, and the work of the next four years, must be the restoration of democracy, of decency, of respect. Just plain, simple decency.

“America’s about honour, decency, respect, tolerance. That’s who we are. That’s who we’ve always been.

“Today is a reminder, a painful one, that democracy is fragile. And to preserve it requires people of good will, leaders with the courage to stand up, who are devoted not to the pursuit of power or their own selfish interests, but to the common good.

“President Trump, step up.”

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