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Donald Trump Sees Social Media Accounts Locked After Washington Protest

David Paul

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Donald Trump

In the unprecedented move, social media sites took action to halt the spread of misinformation by the president.

President Donald Trump’s Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram accounts have been locked over his rhetoric during the storming of the Capitol building.

Trump posted a video during the capitol protests, continuing his allegations that the November election was “stolen” and was rampant with voter fraud.

He also stated that he “loved” the protesters, which caused Twitter to block several previous Tweets citing a “risk of violence”.

In a statement, Twitter said that due to the “ongoing violent situation” in Washington DC, the social media giant would remove the tweets for “repeated and severe violations” of its Civic Integrity policy.

Facebook also responded to Trump’s response video, with vice-president of integrity Guy Rosen Tweeting: “We removed it because on balance we believe it contributes to, rather than diminishes, the risk of ongoing violence.”

Facebook and Twitter have been locked in a bitter war of words with Trump over his possible spread of misinformation in recent months.

In May, Trump criticised Twitter after it began tagging misleading tweets with fact-checking labels. Trump has accused Twitter of “stifling free speech” and attempting to influence the results of the election.

However, it would appear that Trump’s rhetoric has now gone beyond concerns about free speech and election interference.

Yesterday (January 6th) pro-Trump supporters stormed the Washington Capitol building as US lawmakers met to certify Joe Biden as the 46th President of America.

The supporters came directly from a rally held by Trump at the White House, where videos showed him continuing his claims of voter fraud and a rigged election. He told his supporters that they would “never take back our country with weakness”.

Videos of Trump’s speech were posted across social media platforms, with the rhetoric supposedly fuelling the protest.

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In response to the protesters, which Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer called “domestic terrorists,” Trump’s post was taken down by Facebook. In the fallout from the protests, four people have subsequently died, with one woman being fatally shot by police.

For months, Trump has been pushing for senators to repeal Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. The law states that an “interactive computer service” cannot be treated as the publisher or speaker of third-party content.

Trump has complained that the law currently protects social media sites from lawsuits if a user posts something illegal, in an apparent attempt to combat Twitter’s moves to tag his posts.

In December, the President threatened to veto the ‘National Defense Authorization Act’ unless it included a repeal of section 230, despite the fact that the Act was already decided by Republican and Democrat lawmakers.

However, some on the opposing side highlight that removing section 230 and forcing social media sites to moderate content would also be the restricting a form of free speech, something which is protected under the First Amendment.

UPDATE

Since this article was written, news has broken that Donald Trump’s 24 hour Facebook and Instagram ban has been extended until at least Joe Biden’s transition period, with potential for that to be made indefinite.

In a statement, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said: “We believe the risks of allowing the President to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great.”

However, the 12-hour lock on Trump’s Twitter account, which was subject to the removal of three previous tweets, has now ended.

David Paul

Staff Writer, DIGIT

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