Facebook and Instagram are silencing President Donald Trump’s social media accounts for the rest of his presidency. The move, which followed Wednesday’s protest at the U.S. Capitol, is also a somber reminder of the enormous power that social-media platforms can exercise when they choose.
Facebook and Instagram said Thursday they will bar Trump from posting at least until the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.
In a post announcing the unprecedented move, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said the risk of allowing Trump to use the platform is too great following the chaotic protests at the Capitol. Zuckerberg says Trump’s account will be locked “for at least the next two weeks” but could remain locked indefinitely.
“The shocking events of the last 24 hours clearly demonstrate that President Donald Trump intends to use his remaining time in office to undermine the peaceful and lawful transition of power to his elected successor, Joe Biden,” Zuckerberg wrote.
Trump called for protesters to go home on Wednesday afternoon and said there would be an orderly transition Thursday morning in a statement posted to the White House Social Media Director’s Twitter account.
Platforms like Facebook have labeled or even removed some of his posts. Zuckerberg said a more aggressive approach is needed.
“The current context is now fundamentally different, involving use of our platform to incite violent insurrection against a democratically elected government,” he wrote.
Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, will also block Trump’s ability to post on its platform “indefinitely and for at least the next two weeks,” Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram tweeted Thursday.
Twitter also locked President Donald Trump’s accounts for 12 hours after he repeatedly posted false accusations about the integrity of the election.
A company spokesman said the company could take further action as well.
“We’re continuing to evaluate the situation in real time, including examining activity on the ground and statements made off Twitter,” the spokesman said. “We will keep the public informed, including if further escalation in our enforcement approach is necessary.”
So far, YouTube has not taken similar action to muzzle Trump, although it said it also removed Trump’s video.
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 claims about voter fraud affecting the election, Trump went on to say: “We can’t play into the hands of these people. We have to have peace. So go home. We love you. You’re very special.”