Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday said that President Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts will be blocked “indefinitely,” and for at least the next two weeks before Inauguration Day.
“We believe the risks of allowing the President to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great,” Zuckerberg said in a statement 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.”
Zuckerberg’s statement came after Facebook had initially told Fox News that Trump would regain access to his Facebook Thursday night after he was temporarily suspended due to policy violations.
The president’s account was suspended after posting a video telling protesters who stormed the Capitol Building, erupting in violent protests which led to multiple deaths, to “go home,” while maintaining that the 2020 presidential election was “stolen” from him.
Zuckerberg, in the statement, said that “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.”
“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.”
Zuckerberg added that the “priority for the whole country must now be to ensure that the remaining 13 days and the days after inauguration pass peacefully and in accordance with established democratic norms.”
“Over the last several years, we have allowed President Trump to use our platform consistent with our own rules, at times removing content or labeling his posts when they violate our policies,” he continued. “We did this because we believe that the public has a right to the broadest possible access to political speech, even controversial speech.”
He added: “But the current context is now fundamentally different, involving use of our platform to incite violent insurrection against a democratically elected government.”
Facebook first flagged the video, and then removed it altogether, before locking the president’s account due to “two policy violations.” Trump lost the ability to post on Facebook during the “feature block.”
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.
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.
Twitter also removed the video, and locked the president’s account, but went a step further, warning him that further violations of their rules would result in a “permanent suspension” from the platform.
And Instagram also 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.