- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 7, 2021

Twitter and Facebook walled off President Trump’s social media accounts Thursday in a dramatic escalation of the years-long feud between Big Tech and the president.

The social media giants silenced Mr. Trump in response to his angry supporters’ violence at the Capitol on Wednesday.

Facebook implemented a 24-hour blockade of Mr. Trump on Wednesday evening and then ratcheted up its ban on Thursday. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he decided to extend his ban indefinitely because of how the president used Facebook’s platforms in a “fundamentally different” context than at any point in the preceding four years.

“We believe the risks of allowing the president to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great,” Mr. Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post. “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.”

Twitter prevented Mr. Trump’s account, @realDonaldTrump, from posting on Wednesday evening and said the account would be locked for 12 hours following the removal of tweets it said violated the company’s policies.

On Thursday morning, the company said the offending tweets had been deleted.

Twitter won’t say when the clock began to run for its 12-hour lockout of Mr. Trump’s account. The company is evaluating what to do, watching Mr. Trump’s offline actions, and will update the public if it chooses to further escalate its crackdown on Mr. Trump, according to a Twitter representative.

Mr. Trump’s social media accounts were already expected to face more restrictions after he left office. Wednesday’s events, however, prompted Twitter and other social media sites to take action sooner than anticipated.

Twitter had afforded public-interest exceptions allowing Mr. Trump’s content to remain visible despite violating its rules, but the company said in November those exceptions will end when he exits the White House.

Following the pro-Trump mob storming the Capitol, Twitter threatened Mr. Trump with a “permanent suspension” for future violations of its rules. Twitter was not alone in considering that threat, as e-commerce hub Shopify took the Trump Organization’s TrumpStore.com offline.

Shopify terminated stores affiliated with Mr. Trump because it said Mr. Trump violated its acceptable use policy that prohibits the promotion of organizations or people that threaten or condone violence to further a cause, according to reports.

Before the attack on the Capitol, Mr. Trump railed against Big Tech companies at a rally with his supporters on the National Mall.

“All of these tech monopolies are going to abuse their power and interfere in our elections and it has to be stopped and the Republicans have to get a lot tougher and so should the Democrats,” Mr. Trump said. “They should be regulated, investigated, and brought to justice under the fullest extent of the law.”

Later, Mr. Trump recorded a video message telling his supporters at the Capitol to “go home” and that they were “very special.” He also repeated his claim that Democrats “stole” the Nov. 3 presidential election.

Facebook, Twitter and Google-owned YouTube all removed the message.

Big Tech’s crackdown on Mr. Trump did not go over well with the president’s political opponents, however, who viewed the punishment as insufficient.

“While I’m pleased to see social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube take long-belated steps to address the president’s sustained misuse of their platforms to sow discord and violence, these isolated actions are both too late and not nearly enough,” said Sen. Mark Warner, Virginia Democrat, in a statement on Thursday. “Disinformation and extremism researchers have for years pointed to broader network-based exploitation of these platforms.”

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