Facebook bans President Trump to at least the end of his term

Nancy J. Delong

Updated Jan. 7, 2021: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Thursday the company would ban President Donald Trump from the social network and Instagram until the end of his term, and possibly beyond. The decision followed posts in which Trump incited violence against the U.S. Capitol while Congress was in session. […]

Updated Jan. 7, 2021:

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Thursday the company would ban President Donald Trump from the social network and Instagram until the end of his term, and possibly beyond. The decision followed posts in which Trump incited violence against the U.S. Capitol while Congress was in session.

Because of Wednesday’s attack on the Capitol building, Zuckerberg said he believed Trump intended to undermine the transition of power to President-elect Joe Biden. The ban will last until at least Jan. 20.

“We believe the risks of allowing the president to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great,” he said, referring to the need for a peaceful transition from the Trump administration to the Biden administration.

On Wednesday, Facebook removed the president’s posts because they appeared to “provoke further violence,” Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post.

“His decision to use his platform to condone rather than condemn the actions of his supporters at the Capitol building has rightly disturbed people in the U.S. and around the world,” he said. “We removed these statements yesterday because we judged their effect — and likely their intent — would be to provoke further violence.”

While Facebook has removed Trump’s posts before, the company allowed him to remain on the platform to provide the public with broad access to political speech, Zuckerberg said. However, “the current context is now fundamentally different, involving the use of our platform to incite violent insurrection against a democratically elected government.”

Tobe Berkovitz, a Boston University professor specializing in political advertising, said the Facebook ban could drive Trump supporters to join other social sites. He noted a similar situation in cable news, in which that audience migrated from Fox News to Newsmax.

“Hardcore Trump supporters want a venue to go to,” he said. “Nature abhors a vacuum, and if there’s a vacuum, people will try to find what fits their needs.”

Other social media sites have also placed limits on Trump’s use of their platforms. Twitter announced Wednesday that it had locked Trump’s account for 12 hours and removed three tweets it deemed to violate its policies. The company said further rules violations would result in the president’s permanent suspension.

The Twitch streaming service, a subsidiary of Amazon, announced Thursday that it would disable Trump’s channel. “We believe this is a necessary step to protect our community and prevent Twitch from being used to incite further violence,” the service said in a statement.

Snapchat maker Snap locked Trump’s account, and YouTube changed its misinformation policies to make it easier to suspend the president’s account for posting false claims about the November elections, according to The New York Times.

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