Twitter locks Trump, Facebook pulls video

Twitter says it has temporarily locked the account of US President Donald Trump for 12 hours over “repeated and severe violations” of the social media platform’s civic integrity rules and threatened permanent suspension.

It comes after Facebook and YouTube on Wednesday took down a video from President Donald Trump that continued to make the baseless claim the election was fraudulent as he told protesters who had stormed the US Capitol to go home.

Twitter said it required the removal of Trump’s tweets “as a result of the unprecedented and ongoing violent situation in Washington, D.C”.

It said if the tweets, in which the president pushed baseless claims about the election, were not removed then the account would remain locked, meaning the president would be unable to tweet from @realDonaldTrump.

Twitter also said in a tweet that future violations of its rules, including its civic integrity or violent threats policy would result in the account’s permanent suspension.

Facebook’s vice president of integrity Guy Rosen tweeted the social media company believed the video “contributes to rather than diminishes the risk of ongoing violence”, saying the action was part of “appropriate emergency measures”.

Google-owned YouTube said the video violated its policy against content that alleges “widespread fraud or errors changed the outcome of the 2020 U.S. Election”. YouTube spokesman Farshad Shadloo added the company does allow copies that include additional context.

Twitter restricted users from retweeting the video “due to a risk of violence”, as hundreds of protesters sought to force Congress to undo the president’s election loss to Democratic President-elect Joe Biden.

Twitter also restricted a later tweet from Trump, again falsely alleging he had won the election.

Social media companies have been under pressure to police misinformation on their platforms around the election. Trump and his allies have continuously spread unsubstantiated claims of election fraud that have proliferated online.

In a statement on Wednesday, the Anti-Defamation League called for social media companies to suspend Trump’s accounts, saying the events at the Capitol resulted from “fear and disinformation that has been spewed directly from the Oval Office”.

A White House spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

According to researchers and public postings, violent rhetoric and advice on weaponry ramped up significantly in the past three weeks on many social media platforms as multiple groups planned rallies for Wednesday, including Trump supporters, white nationalists and enthusiasts of the wide-ranging conspiracy theory QAnon.

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