Social media companies condemned a video posted by President Donald Trump during a chaotic and violent scene on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, prompting Twitter to lock his account for 12 hours and threaten to permanently ban it, while Facebook imposed a 24-hour block.
Facebook and Alphabet excoriated the president but stopped short of saying they would boot him off their services. The companies face increasing pressure from lawmakers and citizens for acting as digital megaphones for Trump’s tweets and online videos, which have stoked violence and mayhem.
One potential impact is reform of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a crucial internet law that protects social-media sites from being held liable for the content posted by their users.
A Trump video, in which he professed “love” for a riotous mob that stormed the Capitol in protest of his electoral defeat, was liked more than 179,000 times on his Facebook profile.
Facebook Inc. FB, -2.83% first flagged the one-minute video for Trump’s insistence that he won the 2020 election by a landslide, and was robbed of the presidency. It later removed the video from its platform, which reaches 2.7 billion active users monthly.
“This is an emergency situation and we are taking appropriate emergency measures, including removing President Trump’s video,” tweeted Guy Rosen, vice president of integrity at Facebook. “We removed it because on balance we believe it contributes to rather than diminishes the risk of ongoing violence.”
The situation is even more complicated at Twitter Inc. TWTR, -1.15%, where Trump has 88.7 million followers and his controversial video has been viewed 11.4 million times. Twitter, too, flagged the video. It blocked the video from being replied to, retweeted or liked “due to a risk of violence” before removing it.
Indeed, the removal of the video and two subsequent tweets pushed Trump to the brink of being booted from Twitter.