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Amid Capitol Violence, Facebook, YouTube Remove Trump Video

Amid Capitol Violence, Facebook, YouTube Remove Trump Video

Facebook has removed a short video by President Donald Trump in which he urged supporters who stormed the U.S. Capitol Wednesday to go home while also repeating false accusations about the integrity of the presidential election.

In an unprecedented step, Facebook and Twitter suspended President Donald Trump from posting to their platforms Wednesday following the storming of the U.S. Capitol by his supporters.

Twitter locked Trump out of his account for 12 hours and said that future violations by Trump could result in a permanent suspension. The company required the removal of three of Trump’s tweets, including a short video in which he urged those supporters to go home while also repeating falsehoods about the integrity of the presidential election. Trump’s account deleted those posts; had they remained, Twitter had threatened to extend his suspension.

Facebook followed up in the evening, announcing that Trump wouldn’t be able to post for 24 hours following two violations of its policies.

While some cheered the platforms’ actions, experts noted that the companies’ actions follow years of hemming and hawing on Trump and his supporters spreading dangerous misinformation and encouraging violence that have contributed to Wednesday’s violence.

Jennifer Grygiel, a Syracuse University communications professor and an expert on social media, said Wednesdays events in Washington, D.C. are a direct result of Trumps use of social media to spread propaganda and disinformation, and that the platforms should bear some responsibility for their inaction.

This is what happens, said Grygiel. We didnt just see a breach at the Capitol. Social media platforms have been breached by the president repeatedly. This is disinformation. This was a coup attempt in the United States.

Grygiel said the platforms decision to remove the video and Twitters suspension are too little, too late.

Theyre creeping along towards firmer action, Griegel said, calling Trump Exhibit A for the need for greater regulation of social media. Social media is complicit in this because he has repeatedly used social media to incite violence. Its a culmination of years of propaganda and abuse of media by the president of the United States.”

Trump posted that video more than two hours after protesters entered the Capitol, interrupting lawmakers meeting in an extraordinary joint session to confirm the Electoral College results and President-elect Joe Bidens victory.

So far, YouTube has not taken similar action to muzzle Trump.

Guy Rosen, Facebooks vice president of integrity, said on Twitter Wednesday that the video was removed because it contributes to rather than diminishes the risk of ongoing violence.

This is an emergency situation and we are taking appropriate emergency measures, including removing President Trumps video, Rosen said on Twitter.

Twitter initially left the video up but blocked people from being able to retweet it or comment on it. Only later in the day did the platform delete it entirely.

Trump opened his video saying, I know your pain. I know your hurt. But you have to go home now.

After repeating false claims about voter fraud affecting the election, Trump went on to say: We cant play into the hands of these people. We have to have peace. So go home. We love you. Youre very special.

Republican lawmakers and previous administration officials had begged Trump to give a statement to his supporters to quell the violence. The statement came as authorities struggled to take control of a chaotic situation at the Capitol that led to the evacuation of lawmakers and the death of at least one person.

Trump has harnessed social media especially Twitter as a potent tool for spreading misinformation about the election. Wednesday’s riot only increased calls to ban Trump from the platform.

The President has promoted sedition and incited violence,” Jonathan Greenblatt, chief executive officer of the Anti-Defamation League said in a statement. More than anything, what is happening right now at the Capitol is a direct result of the fear and disinformation that has been spewed consistently from the Oval Office.”

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