A flag that reads "Treason" is visible on the ground in the early morning hours of Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021, after protesters stormed the Capitol in Washington, on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Credit: Andrew Harnik
Credit: Andrew Harnik
Jennifer Grygiel, a Syracuse University communications professor and an expert on social media, said Wednesday’s events in Washington, D.C. are a direct result of Trump’s use of social media to spread propaganda and disinformation, and that the platforms should bear some responsibility for their inaction.
“This is what happens,” Grygiel said. “We didn’t just see a breach at the Capitol. Social media platforms have been breached by the president repeatedly. This is disinformation. This was a coup attempt in the United States.”
Grygiel said the platform’s decision to remove the video — and Twitter’s suspension — are too little, too late.
“They’re creeping along towards firmer action,” Grygiel said, calling Trump “Exhibit A” for the need for greater regulation of social media. “Social media is complicit in this because he has repeatedly used social media to incite violence. It’s a culmination of years of propaganda and abuse of media by the president of the United States."
Trump posted the video more than two hours after protesters entered the Capitol, interrupting lawmakers meeting in an extraordinary joint session to confirm the Electoral College results and President-elect Joe Biden's victory.
So far, YouTube has not taken similar action to muzzle Trump, although it said it also removed Trump’s video. But that video remained available as of Wednesday afternoon.
President Donald Trump arrives to speak at a rally Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Credit: Jacquelyn Martin
Credit: Jacquelyn Martin
Guy Rosen, Facebook’s vice president of integrity, said on Twitter Wednesday that the video was removed because it “contributes to rather than diminishes the risk of ongoing violence.”
“This is an emergency situation and we are taking appropriate emergency measures, including removing President Trump’s video,” Rosen said.
Twitter initially left the video up but blocked people from being able to retweet it or comment on it. Only later in the day did the platform delete it entirely.
Trump opened his video saying, “I know your pain. I know your hurt. But you have to go home now.”
After repeating false claims about voter fraud affecting the election, Trump went on to say: “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.”
President Trump Urges Mob
Storming the Capitol to ‘Go Home’.
President Donald Trump released a message urging
his mob of supporters to stop their assault on the Capitol. .
In a video posted to Twitter, Trump said
that they “have to go home now.” .
You have to go home now. We have
to have peace. We have to have law
and order. We don’t want anyone hurt, Donald Trump, via Twitter.
But the president ultimately offered
his encouragement to the violent crowd, telling them,
“we love you. You’re very special.” .
Vice President Mike Pence also released
a statement, saying the “violence and
destruction” must stop. .
Peaceful protest is the right of every
American but this attack on our Capitol will
not be tolerated and those involved will be
prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, Mike Pence, via Twitter.
President-elect Joe Biden released a statement pertaining
to the Capitol “siege” as well, saying it “borders on sedition.” .
The scenes of chaos at the Capitol do not
represent who we are. What we are seeing is
a small number of extremists dedicated to
lawlessness. This is not dissent, it's disorder.
It borders on sedition, and it must end. Now, Joe Biden, via Twitter.
Many lawmakers blame Trump for causing
the riot in the first place.
He spoke at a rally shortly before the
incident and urged his supporters to “never
concede” to the results of the election.
We’re going to walk down to the Capitol …
You'll never take back our country with
weakness, you have to show strength
and you have to be strong, Donald Trump, via CNN
Republican lawmakers and previous administration officials had begged Trump to give a statement to his supporters to quell the violence. He posted his video as authorities struggled to take control of a chaotic situation at the Capitol that led to the evacuation of lawmakers and the death of at least one person.
Trump has harnessed social media — especially Twitter — as a potent tool for spreading misinformation about the election. Wednesday's riot only increased calls to ban Trump from the platform.
“The President has promoted sedition and incited violence," Jonathan Greenblatt, chief executive officer of the Anti-Defamation League said in a statement. “More than anything, what is happening right now at the Capitol is a direct result of the fear and disinformation that has been spewed consistently from the Oval Office."
In a statement Thursday morning, Trump said there would be an “orderly transition on January 20th” and acknowledged defeat in the election for the first time. His aides posted the statement on Twitter because his account remained suspended.