Mark Zuckerberg announced Thursday morning that President Trump will be banned from posting to Facebook and Instagram through at least the end of his term.
“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 US and around the world,” Zuckerberg wrote. “We removed these statements yesterday because we judged that their effect — and likely their intent — would be to provoke further violence.”
On Wednesday, Facebook removed a one-minute video Trump posted in which he expressed sympathy for the rioters who stormed the Capitol — “we love you,” he said — and repeated his lie that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him. The company banned him from posting for 24 hours, while Twitter implemented a 12-hour ban.
“We believe the risks of allowing the President to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great,” Facebook announced Thursday. “Therefore, we are extending the block we have placed on his Facebook and Instagram accounts indefinitely and for at least the next two weeks until the peaceful transition of power is complete.”
The mob rushed the Capitol Wednesday afternoon in an effort to disrupt the formal counting of electoral votes that would seal the victory of President-elect Joe Biden. They had been urged on by Trump and dozens of Republican legislators who announced their intentions to object to the count. D.C. police said four people died during the siege, one from a gunshot and three from unspecified medical emergencies.
Zuckerberg has been criticized for much of Trump’s term for his company’s role in spreading misinformation. During a 2019 hearing, Zuckerberg wouldn’t commit to removing false statements during an exchange with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.
“Well, Congresswoman, I think lying is bad,” said Zuckerberg. “And I think if you were to run an ad that had a lie, that would be bad.” But he said it wasn’t Facebook’s role “to prevent your constituents or people in an election from seeing that you had lied.”
“So you won’t take down lies, or you will take down lies?” asked Ocasio-Cortez. “I think that’s a pretty simple yes or no.”
“In a democracy, I believe that people should be able to see for themselves what politicians that they may or may not vote for are saying and judge their character for themselves,” said Zuckerberg.
Also that year, the company declined to remove an ad smearing Biden. There is evidence that the algorithms social media companies use to decide what users see are weighted toward divisive and politically extreme content, which generate more views and interaction — and revenue. In May 2020, the Wall Street Journal reported that Facebook had shut down efforts to make its service less divisive by changing its algorithms.
Cover thumbnail photo illustration: Yahoo News; photos: AP (2), Getty Images
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