All it took for social-media giants Twitter and Facebook to even temporarily bar President Donald Trump from addressing their vast audiences was a violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, fueled by years of false statements, conspiracy theories and violent rhetoric from the president.
On Wednesday, in an unprecedented step, the two companies temporarily suspended Trump from posting to their platforms after a mob of his supporters stormed the house of Congress. It was the most aggressive action either company has yet taken against Trump, who more than a decade ago embraced the immediacy and scale of Twitter to rally loyalists, castigate enemies and spread false rumors.
Twitter locked Trump out of his account for 12 hours and said that future violations could result in a permanent suspension. The company required the removal of three of Trump’s tweets, including a short video in which he urged those supporters to “go home” while also repeating falsehoods about the integrity of the presidential election. Trump’s account deleted those posts, Twitter said; had they remained, Twitter had threatened to extend his suspension.