Critics Call for Twitter to Suspend Trump Following Storming of Capitol Building (Updated)
Twitter has continually ignored calls to restrict President Trump from tweeting
After a Trump rally in Washington, D.C., escalated into a mob that breached the U.S. Capitol building and took control of congressional offices, activists and online information experts like Roxane Gay, Kara Swisher, and Danielle Citron called for Twitter to suspend President Trump’s account.
A suspension of the president’s Twitter account, they say, would prevent more violence from being incited. Even Alex Stamos, a former Facebook chief security officer, called for Facebook and Twitter to suspend the president’s accounts.
Hours after these initial calls for action, Twitter temporarily locked the president’s account, deleted three tweets pushing an election conspiracy theory, and threatened Trump with permanent suspension.
Twitter Locks Trump’s Account, Threatens ‘Permanent Suspension’ After Riot at Capitol Building
Three of Trump’s tweets pushing the baseless conspiracy theory that the election was stolen were also removed
Response from the social platform was relatively cautious earlier in the day. At first, Twitter “locked” one of the president’s tweets, preventing it from being replied to or liked. During this period, it could still be retweeted if the user added a comment; Twitter eventually removed the tweet entirely. The tweet reprimanded Vice President Mike Pence for not overturning the election.
At that time, a Twitter spokesperson reached for comment by OneZero would not say if the company would take specific action against the president.
“In regard to the ongoing situation in Washington, D.C., Twitter’s Trust and Safety teams are working to protect the public conversation occurring on the service and will take action on any content that violates the Twitter rules,” the spokesperson said. “Let us be clear: Threats of and calls to violence have no place on Twitter, and we will enforce our policies accordingly.”
Twitter has long ignored calls to restrict President Trump from tweeting, even carving out special loopholes during his presidency to justify its inaction. The company has argued that Trump’s tweets are in the public interest.
However, now that the president’s recent tweets have escalated into calling his supporters to Washington, D.C., and inciting a violent protest on the Capitol, the account has veered into promoting terrorism. Twitter had previously said that even world leaders would not be exempt from promoting terrorism on the platform, according to CNN.
After his supporters had already broken into the U.S. Capitol building, Trump tweeted a video reiterating that the election had been stolen but asking for his supporters to go home and stay peaceful. The same video was also posted by Trump’s accounts on YouTube and Facebook. All three platforms eventually removed it.
YouTube said the video violated its “policies regarding content that alleges widespread fraud or errors changed the outcome,” according to Protocol reporter Emily Birnbaum.
Guy Rosen, Facebook’s VP of Integrity, said “We removed it because on balance we believe it contributes to rather than diminishes the risk of ongoing violence.”
Twitter acted last, removing the video after it had accumulated more than 12 million views.
This story has been updated with additional context throughout, most recently at 7:45 p.m. ET, when Twitter locked Trump’s account and threatened it with permanent suspension.