Twitter and Facebook locked President Trump’s account for the first time on Wednesday night, with both platforms saying he violated their policies, and Twitter going a step further to warn him that further violations of their rules would result in a “permanent suspension” of his account.
Twitter’s move came after the social media giant removed a video the president tweeted, in which he told protesters who had stormed the Capitol to “go home,” while maintaining that the 2020 election had been “stolen.”
The violent protests erupted on Capitol Hill during a joint session of Congress to certify the results of the presidential election.
“In regard to the ongoing situation in Washington, D.C., we are working proactively to protect the health of the public conversation occurring on the service and will take action on any content that violates the Twitter Rules,” Twitter said in a statement. “Threats of and calls to violence are against the Twitter Rules, and we are enforcing our policies accordingly.”
“In addition, we have been significantly restricting engagement with Tweets labeled under our Civic Integrity Policy due to the risk of violence. This means these labeled Tweets will not be able to be replied to, Retweeted, or liked,” Twitter added, noting that they are also “exploring other escalated enforcement actions and will keep the public updated with any significant developments.”
“This means that the account of @RealDonaldTrump will be locked for 12 hours following the removal of these tweets,” Twitter posted. “If the Tweets are not removed, the account will remain locked.”
“Future violations of the Twitter Rules, including our Civic Integrity or Violent Threats policies, will result in permanent suspension of the @realDonaldTrump account,” Twitter said.
Facebook, too, removed the president’s video message, and locked his account for 24 hours, preventing him from posting to his Facebook page.
“We’ve assessed two policy violations against President Trump’s Page which will result in a 24-hour feature block, meaning he will lose the ability to post on the platform during that time,” Facebook tweeted Wednesday night.
In the president’s video, addressing supporters, he said: “I know your pain, I know your hurt.”
“We had an election that was stolen from us,” Trump said in the video taped from the White House. “It was a landslide election and everyone knows it, especially the other side.”
He added: “But you have to go home now. We have to have peace, we have to have law and order we have to respect our great people in law and order. We don’t want anyone hurt.”
The president went on to say that it is a “very tough period of time—there has never been a time like this where such a thing happened, where they could take it away from all of us— from me, from you, from our country.”
“This was a fraudulent election, but we can’t play into the hands of these people,” Trump said. “We have to have peace.”
Trump added: “So go home, we love you, you’re very special, you’ve seen what happens, you’ve seen the way others are treated that are so bad, so evil. I know how you feel.”
“But go home and go home in peace,” he said.
The president, after posting the video, tweeted: “These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long,” Trump tweeted. “Go home with love & peace.”
He added: “Remember this day forever!”
Both the video and the tweet were flagged by Twitter and removed.
Before their removal, a Twitter spokesperson said: “In line with our Civic Integrity Policy and recent guidance, we have placed a label on the Tweet, and have significantly restricting engagement with the Tweet due to the risk of violence.”
The spokesperson added: “This means this Tweet will not be able to be replied to, Retweeted, or liked.”
Twitter’s initial flag on Trump’s video message and tweet stated: “This claim of election fraud is disputed, and this Tweet can’t be replied to, Retweeted, or liked due to a risk of violence.”
And Facebook Vice President Guy Rosen, upon the platform’s removal of the video, initially said: “This is an emergency situation and we are taking appropriate emergency measures, including removing President Trump’s video. We removed it because on balance we believe it contributes to rather than diminishes the risk of ongoing violence.”
Facebook initially flagged Trump’s post with a label saying: “Joe Biden has been elected President with results that were certified by all 50 states. The US has laws, procedures, and established institutions to ensure the peaceful transfer of power after an election.” The company later removed the post altogether.
Meanwhile, Instagram locked the president’s account Wednesday night, according to a Twitter message from Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram.
Earlier in the day, before the unrest at the Capitol began, the president addressed his supporters at a pro-Trump rally, and railed against Big Tech and social media.
“Twitter’s bad news,” Trump said. “They’re all bad news. If you want to go through social media, Big Tech, if you’re a Republican or have a big voice, they shadow ban you.”
He added: “And it should be illegal.”
The president also said he has “been telling these Republicans to get rid of Section 230.”
Republicans have questioned whether social media giants should still be afforded liability protections under Section 230—a rule that shields social media companies from being held liable for content on their platforms, while allowing them to moderate that content.