Twitter locks Trump’s account, YouTube, Facebook remove video on Capitol breach

Trump supporters left a flag outside the Capitol, Wednesday evening, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. As Congress prepares to affirm President-elect Joe Biden's victory, thousands of people have gathered to show their support for President Donald Trump and his claims of election fraud. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Social media companies faced fresh calls to suspend or remove Trump amid Wednesday’s unrest, which caused Capitol Hill to go into lockdown.

Twitter restricted access to a post from President Donald Trump in which he called on rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday to “go home.”

Twitter said Wednesday it locked Trump’s account for repeatedly violating its rules in posts about the Capitol Hill breach, and it would remain locked until the president took down the posts, Politico said.

It’s the harshest enforcement action to date against the president by the social media company, which critics have long criticized for not taking more forceful action against Trump.

Earlier, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter took down on one of his posts after he called for rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol to “go home” but repeated the baseless allegations of a rigged election that drew scores of his supporters to Washington.

Twitter also removed two other tweets from the president Wednesday, including one attacking Vice President Mike Pence and one calling the rioters “great patriots.”

In a 62-second video posted on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter Wednesday afternoon, Trump repeated his baseless claims that the presidential election had been “stolen.”

YouTube removed the video, according to a company spokesperson, who said the post violated its policies against content alleging widespread voter fraud during the 2020 elections. The spokesperson said YouTube would allow users to repost the video if it contained additional educational context.

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Facebook initially handled the post by adding a label that directed users to authoritative sources of information on the election and read, “The US has laws, procedures, and establishment institutions to ensure the integrity of our elections.” But it later escalated its decision by removing the post entirely.

“This is an emergency situation and we are taking appropriate emergency measures, including removing President Trump’s video,” tweeted Facebook integrity chief Guy Rosen. “We removed it because on balance we believe it contributes to rather than diminishes the risk of ongoing violence.”

Twitter within minutes blocked users from replying to, liking or retweeting the post without added context, citing a “risk of violence.” But it did not remove the video until hours later, nor suspend his Twitter account, despite calls for that action by people and groups who said the president was using the social media platform to incite violence.

The companies have long faced criticism from Democratic leaders, civil rights groups and other advocates that they have failed to enforce their policies against the incitement of violence on their platforms when it comes to Trump and his allies.

Trump used the video to continue claiming falsely that he, not President-elect Joe Biden, had won in November.

“It was a landslide election and everyone knows it, especially the other side, but you have to go home now. We have to have peace. We have to have law and order,” Trump said in the video, hours after a crowd of rioters breached the Capitol building and invaded the House and Senate chambers.

Twitter later restricted, and finally removed, a tweet in which Trump appeared to justify the violence, writing: “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.”

He added: “Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!”

The company also removed an earlier tweet Wednesday in which Trump said Pence, who had refused to use his role as president of the Senate to overturn the election results, “didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done.”

Twitter’s public safety division tweeted that the social media company is “working proactively to protect the health of the public conversation occurring on the service and will take action on any content that violates” its rules. The social media platform also said it is “exploring other escalated enforcement actions,” without elaborating.

The social media platforms faced fresh calls to suspend or remove Trump amid Wednesday’s unrest, which caused Capitol Hill to go into lockdown and for lawmakers to evacuate in gas masks as police dispersed tear gas against rioters.

Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, issued a statement Wednesday saying that “social media companies should suspend his accounts ASAP as they would do for anyone else advocating disinformation and promoting violence.”

Rashad Robinson, president of advocacy group Color of Changed, tweeted Wednesday: “Enough is enough. It’s time for Facebook and Twitter to kick Trump off their platforms.”