Social media giants, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter have frozen the accounts of the President of the United States of America, Donald Trump, following violent protests that erupted at the Capitol building while Congress leaders sat to certify the November 3 election win of Democrat candidate, Joe Biden.
Reacting swiftly to the protests on Wednesday, the three social media titans temporarily locked Trump’s accounts as they scrambled to crack down on his insistent claims about the US presidential elections being rigged and his refusal to concede defeat to Biden, which led to his supporters storming the Capitol in Washington DC and forced a halt to proceedings.
According to the Washington Post, Facebook also said it would search for and remove contents which praised the storming of the Capitol or encouraged the violence.
On its part, Twitter said Trump’s account which has over 88 million followers, would be locked for 12 hours and if the offending tweets he posted were 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,” Twitter officials said in a statement.
Twitter also hid and required the removal of three of Trump’s tweets “as a result of the unprecedented and ongoing violent situation in Washington, DC,” after the president’s supporters attempted to force Congress to block the appointment of President-elect Biden.
In the cheeky tweet, Trumped had urged his supporters to “go home” while also praising the mob as “special” and telling them that they were “loved.”
Twitter’s initial actions were aimed at limiting the reach of offending tweets from Trump and others.
“We have been significantly restricting engagement with tweets labeled under our Civic Integrity Policy due to the risk of violence. This means these labeled tweets will not be able to be replied to, retweeted, or liked.”
A Trump video clip posted at the top of his official Twitter account was tagged with a note saying the claim of voter fraud was disputed and that the tweet could not be replied to, retweeted, or liked “due to a risk of violence”.
In a rapidly evolving sequence of events, Facebook and YouTube also took down videos posted by Trump.
“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.
“We prohibit incitement and calls for violence on our platform. We are actively reviewing and removing any content that breaks these rules,” Facebook Vice President of Integrity, Guy Rosen, said in a tweet.
YouTube also removed a Trump video that repeated his attacks on the integrity of the election he lost in November, following its policy barring claims challenging election results.
“As the situation at the United States Capitol Building unfolds, our teams are working to quickly remove live streams and other contents that violates our policies, including those against incitement to violence or regarding footage of graphic violence,” said YouTube spokesman Alex Joseph.
Facebook subsequently said it would search for and remove content which praised the storming of the Capitol or encouraged the violence.
The social network said it would also seek to take down additional calls for protests, including peaceful ones, if they breached a curfew imposed in the US capital or any attempts to “restage” the storming of Congress, which a Facebook spokesman described as a “disgrace.”
Facebook maintained that it was in contact with law enforcement officials and continued to enforce bans on the QAnon conspiracy group, militarised social movements and hate groups.