Facebook to ban Trump until at least Biden’s inauguration

Facebook employees protest over Mark Zuckerberg's handling of Trump posts

Facebook will keep President Donald Trump from posting on its platforms for at least the next two weeks, citing the security risks to Joe Biden’s inauguration in light of Wednesday’s deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

The move follows a temporary block on the president that was put in place a day earlier by Facebook and Twitter after Trump repeatedly posted false accusations about the integrity of the election.

Twitter locked Trump out of his account for 12 hours, and he will be allowed to resume tweeting today, but future violations could result in a permanent suspension, the platform said.

» MORE: Trump supporters flock to Parler app to cast doubt on Biden win

At Facebook, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Thursday that Trump’s account — along with his Instagram — would remain locked through the end of his term on January 20, saying the risk of another violent and harrowing episode incited by the president’s social media posts was “too great.”

“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 wrote.

It was the most aggressive action either company has yet taken against Trump, who more than a decade ago embraced the immediacy and scale of Twitter to rally loyalists, castigate enemies and spread false rumors.

Elsewhere, YouTube announced Thursday that it would suspend or permanently ban any channel that posts new videos with false claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election.

The latest action by Facebook was prompted after four people died in the riot Wednesday at the Capitol where at least 60 anarchists were also arrested and jailed, according to reports. Photos from the scene showed Capitol Police with guns drawn and lawmakers taking cover on the chamber floor. Around the city, authorities reported finding pipe bombs, Molotov cocktails and other contraband stashed in several places for potential later use.

» AUGUST 2020: Facebook removes hundreds of fake pro-Trump accounts

More arrests were expected as investigators sort out the evidence of a chaotic day in the nation’s capital only two weeks before Biden takes the oath of office.

Zuckerberg added that Trump’s account could remain locked indefinitely, even after the inauguration.

To come back on Twitter, Trump was required to remove three tweets, including a short video in which he urged those supporters to “go home” while also repeating falsehoods about the integrity of the presidential election. Trump’s account deleted those posts by Wednesday, Twitter said; had they remained, Twitter had threatened to extend his suspension.

Facebook and Instagram followed up the same night, announcing that Trump wouldn’t be able to post for 24 hours following two violations of its policies. Zuckerberg then extended the ban on Thursday. The White House did not immediately offer a response to the actions.

The latest move by Zuckerberg was seen as unprecedented because the platform had allowed Trump for most of his presidency to spread falsehoods about election integrity and other issues.

» JULY 2020: Facebook losing millions of dollars as companies cut off advertising

Last summer, more than 400 global companies boycotted, withholding millions of dollars in advertising to pressure Facebook to take a stronger stance against misinformation and hate speech on the platform.

Since then, the company has tightened its restrictions on misinformation, occasionally labeling or even removing some of the president’s posts, but the overall response has failed to satisfy a growing number of critics who say the platforms have only enabled the president.

Zuckerberg said Wednesday that a more aggressive approach was needed.

“The current context is now fundamentally different, involving use of our platform to incite violent insurrection against a democratically elected government,” he wrote.

This is a developing story. Stay with AJC.com for updates. Information provided by The Associated Press was used to supplement this report.

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