On Wednesday, a crowd of people invaded the US Capitol as weeks of President Donald Trump’s baseless accusation that the 2020 election had been robbed exploded over to a show of revolt. The chaos happened to come as Congress gathered in the building to confirm the election results.
Congressmen evacuated their chambers but returned a few hours later, and early Thursday they confirmed the victory of former Vice President Joe Biden in the presidential election over Trump after the House and the Senate denied the attempts of the GOP to discard the electoral votes for Biden by Georgia and Pennsylvania.
Trump has been using Facebook and Twitter to drive millions of followers to false allegations of electoral fraud. The companies have branded several Trump tweets and posts, but critics argue that they do nothing to avoid the dissemination of misinformation that could lead to trouble. Even so, on Wednesday, both firms took tougher measures.
In a surprising move, Twitter locked Trump’s account and said it needed the deletion of three tweets that breached his election rules and other democratic processes. “If the Tweets are not erased, the account will stay locked,” Twitter said in a tweet. Twitter also added that Trump’s account would be banned permanently if it breaches the company’s policies again.
Facebook also deleted a video that the president had shared for “conveying support for the people responsible for violence,” according to a note from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg tweeted by a New York Times reporter.
Facebook has also restricted the president from uploading to his page for 24 hours, as per the Times. Facebook-owned Instagram has also restricted the president’s account for the same period. On Thursday, Trump stated his deputy commander of staff’s Twitter account, Dan Scavino, saying that while he disagreed with the results of the election, “there will be an orderly transition on January 20th.”
Social networking sites have usually been hesitant to remove Trump’s messages, while politicians are not excluded from their rules against promoting abuse. In the past, for example, Twitter added a warning to Trump’s tweets but permitted users to access his messages because of public interest.
On Wednesday, in the run-up to the Congress meeting to announce the election results, Trump spoke to a rally of supporters nearby, and he heated them, telling them, “We will never give up, we will never concede.”
“Mike Pence didn’t dare to do what should have been done to protect our country and our Constitution,” Trump tweeted in a statement that falsely suggested illegal votes had been approved by the states.
“The USA demands the truth!” he added. Twitter initially classified the tweet as controversial, adding that users can’t respond to, retweet or tweet “due to a risk of violence.” The tweet is no longer accessible, along with two other Trump tweets posted on Wednesday.
Facebook, which exempts lawmakers from fact-checking, has also added labels to some of Trump’s posts that guide users to his election information center before deleting them. In a blog post, Facebook also said it will delete posts that promoted the storming of the U.S. Capitol and called for guns to be taken to demonstrations or protests that breached D.C.’s 6 p.m. ET, man.
By the time the social networks were acting, though, Trump’s tweets had already garnered a lot of views. Trump’s video, which reiterated false allegations about electoral fraud but advised rioters to “go home now” racked more than 13 million Twitter views before it became inaccessible. Facebook and Google-owned YouTube have taken the video down.
YouTube cited the policy of withdrawing all new videos alleging fraud in the 2020 presidential election, as did Trump’s video. YouTube developed the rule a month ago and effectively classified Biden’s victory as a historical fact. YouTube claimed that it would allow copies of the video to remain accessible if they were viewed in the sense of “adequate educational, documentary, science, or artistic quality.” There was no response from the White House on these comments.
On Wednesday, the social media platforms were faced with further demands to remove Trump’s accounts and to take further action toward posts that provoke aggression. University of Virginia law professor Danielle Citron, journalist Kara Swisher, Obama Foundation CTO Leslie Miley, Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt, and others shared tweets urging Twitter to unleash Trump on the social media platform.
Twitter said it would take action towards tweets that breach its rules in a statement. “Let us be clear: Threats of and calls to violence have no place on Twitter, and we will implement our policies accordingly,” the firm said.
Facebook, which also has rules against encouraging abuse, has received criticism for allowing Trump and his supporters to put false allegations of electoral fraud on its website. Christopher Wylie, an informant in the Cambridge Analytica debacle on Facebook, tweeted that the aggression that broke out in the U.S. Capitol was an unavoidable expression of the deception, vitriol, and hate fed to people daily on Facebook.”
Facebook said it is monitoring and deleting any material that breaches its policies against promoting abuse.
Biden talked to the country shortly after 4 p.m. ET, calling the attack an “assault” on democracy that “borders on treason.” He also called on Trump to appear on national TV to condemn the mob’s actions. “President Trump, step up,” he said. A woman who was hospitalized for gunshot wounds on Capitol grounds was later confirmed to have died of her injuries.
CNN broadcast scenes of rioters bumping through the walls and scurrying through them. In the pictures, the pro-Trump crowd milled in the Capitol Building, robbing with statues and entering the legislative offices.
Members of the House of Representatives and the Senate met Wednesday to count votes cast by the States to Washington. Trump and some legislators have tried to use the mechanism, which is generally procedural, to contest the election results. The President forced Pence, who presides over the process, to support his baseless allegations that the vote had been compromised.