8 Jan 2021

Facebook blocks Trump 'until transition complete'

7:34 am on 8 January 2021

Donald Trump has been suspended from his Facebook account for at least two weeks - and possibly indefinitely.

US President Donald Trump and Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg.

Facebook's chief Mark Zuckerberg wrote that the risks of allowing Donald Trump to post "are simply too great". Photo: AFP

It means the president will be unable to post on Facebook and Instagram until after the transition of power to Joe Biden on 20 January.

The social network had originally imposed a 24-hour ban after his supporters attacked the US Capitol.

Facebook's chief Mark Zuckerberg wrote that the risks of allowing Trump to post "are simply too great".

In a video posted to Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, Trump told the rioters attacking the seat of government "I love you" before telling them to go home. He also repeated false claims about election fraud.

The largest social networks each took action against the president's accounts in the wake of the violence.

Zuckerberg said Facebook had removed the president's posts "because we judged that their effect - and likely their intent - would be to provoke further violence".

He said it was clear Trump intended to undermine the transfer of power to President-elect Joe Biden.

"Therefore, we are extending the block we have placed on his Facebook and Instagram accounts indefinitely and for at least the next two weeks until the peaceful transition of power is complete," he wrote.

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Twitter ban

Trump's favoured platform, Twitter, had also suspended the president for 12 hours.

It said it required the removal of three tweets for "severe violations of our Civic Integrity policy".

The company said the president's account would remain locked for good if the tweets were not removed.

It went on to say that "Future violations of the Twitter Rules... will result in permanent suspension of the @realDonaldTrump account".

The 12-hour timer on Trump's account has expired, but he has not yet tweeted again.

But his account now states that three of his tweets are "no longer available because [they] violated" its rules.

The platform only uses this specific notice in cases when account holders have deleted the post themselves.

This indicates that Trump or one of his associates has taken the action demanded to get the account restored.

When asked whether it had extended its original 12-hour block, a spokeswoman for Twitter said: "We're continuing to evaluate the situation in real-time, including examining activity on the ground and statements made off Twitter. We will keep the public informed, including if further escalation in our enforcement approach is necessary."

'I totally disagree'

Dan Scavino, White House director of social media, has used his own account to publish a statement on the President's behalf.

"Even though I totally disagree with the outcome of the election, and the facts bear me out, nevertheless there will be an orderly transition on January 20th," it quoted Trump as saying.

"I have always said we would continue our fight to ensure that only legal votes were counted. While this represents the end of the greatest first term in presidential history, it's only the beginning of our fight to Make America Great Again!"

Snapchat also stopped Trump from creating new posts, but did not say if or when it would end the ban. YouTube also removed the video.

His supporters stormed the seat of US government and clashed with police, leading to the death of one woman.

The violence brought to a halt congressional debate over Democrat Joe Biden's election win.

In the House and Senate chambers, Republicans were challenging the certification of November's election results.

Before the violence, President Trump had told supporters on the National Mall in Washington that the election had been stolen.

Hours later, as the violence mounted inside and outside the US Capitol, he appeared on video and repeated the false claim.

He told protesters "I love you" and described the people who stormed the Capitol complex as "patriots".

YouTube said it had removed the video because it "violated policies on spreading election fraud".

Twitter initially did not take down the video, instead removing the ability to retweet, like and comment on it and another tweet.

However, it later removed them, and suspended the outgoing president.

YouTube already had a policy to remove fake news about mass election fraud, which it applied to the president.

The march was partly organised online, including on Facebook groups and pages.

Facebook said it was looking for and removing content that had incited or supported the storming of Capitol Hill.

Canadian e-commerce software provider Shopify has also taken action against the president.

It took stores run by the Trump campaign and Trump Organization offline, saying its rules prohibited retailers from supporting those who promoted violence.

"As a result, we have terminated stores affiliated with President Trump," it told the Wall Street Journal.