Donald Trump has been blocked from Twitter and Facebook after Capitol riots - here's why

Thursday, 7th January 2021, 4:13 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th January 2021, 5:34 pm

Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have suspended President Donald Trump’s accounts after he posted messages and a video to supporters who attacked the US Capitol in Washington.

One woman was shot dead during the protests, which took place on 6 January, the day of the Senate vote that would confirm Joe Biden as the next president of the United States.

Amid concerns the outgoing president’s social media posts have incited violence, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced today (7 January) that his Facebook and Instagram accounts would be blocked indefinitely, while Twitter removed three tweets from Trump’s account @realDonaldTrump and blocked him for 12 hours.

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But what did the outgoing president say on the social media platforms, and has he responded to claims that he caused the protests?

Here is what we know.

What did Trump say on social media?

Trump posted on social media before, during and after a mob of his supporters invaded the Capitol building.

Before the violence Trump addressed a non-violent rally outside the White House on 6 January, telling protestors: “We’re going to walk down to the Capitol and we’re going to cheer on our brave senators and Congressmen and women.” He added the protestors should “fight” and “We will never give up, We will never concede.”

He had previously tweeted about the event, on 20 December 2020, telling supporters “Big protest in DC on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!”

After his address, some of those who had attended the rally marched to the Capitol in Washington and launched a violent protest, which led to an armed police response and a protestor’s death.

The president then tweeted again, asking people to “stay peaceful”, adding, “Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement. They are truly on the side of our Country. Stay peaceful!”

Hours into the violent protests from Republicans, Trump posted a video on Twitter and Facebook, telling protesters “go home now.” He said “I know your pain. I know you’re hurt. We had an election that was stolen from us. It was a landslide election and everyone knows it. Especially the other side. But you have to go home now,” before adding: “We love you. You’re very special.”

As police took back control of the Capitol, Trump tweeted: “These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long.”

How did Twitter respond to Trump’s posts?

Twitter had previously allowed the tweets to remain in place, only sanctioning user interaction with them, such as retweeting, commenting or liking.

The tweets and video have now been removed by the platform.

They have been replaced with a Twitter message which reads “This Tweet is no longer available because it violated the Twitter Rules. Learn more”

Twitter’s terms state: “You may not threaten violence against an individual or a group of people,” and “We also prohibit the glorification of violence.”

President Trump has now also been denied access to his Twitter account for 12 hours.

A spokesperson for Twitter said the tweets were "severe violations of our Civic Integrity policy".

Several of his other tweets referring to election fraud have been disabled by Twitter, removing the option to retweet, comment or like. A link has been added, which reads: “This claim about election fraud is disputed.”

How has Facebook reacted?

On 7 January, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg confirmed Trump had been blocked from Facebook and Instagram indefinitely.

In a statement, Zuckerberg said: “The shocking events of the 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.

"We removed these statements yesterday because we judged that their effect — and likely their intent — would be to provoke further violence.”

He continued: “Over the last several years, we have allowed President Trump to use our platform consistent with our own rules,” “but the current context is now fundamentally different, involving use of our platform to incite violent insurrection against a democratically elected government.

He concluded: “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.”

Youtube has also removed the video and Snapchat has disabled Trump from sharing videos on its app.

What happened on Capitol Hill?

The riots began as a non-violent rally in the day, hosted by Trump, where he told his supporters that they had been denied the election through electoral fraud - claims which have not been proven.

Trump also told the rally how vice-President Mike Pence would “do the right thing” and reject the results of the election, something Pence is not empowered to do and had previously stated he would not do.

Hundreds of Trump supporters broke into the Capitol building where the congressional certification of the election was taking place.

Windows and doors were broken and the protesters managed to reach as far as the room where the speaker and the senate had met.

Armed police were deployed and, after hours of mayhem and the shooting of a protester, Trump deployed the National Guard. The building was then evacuated and politicians were taken to safe places, as were their staff.

One Trump supporter, Ashli Babbit, was killed in the protest, as shots as tear gas were fired by officers attempting to take back control.

After hours of protesting, the building was secured and Joe Biden was certified as US president.

How did other political leaders respond to President Trump?

Joe Biden was quick to call for peace and directly addressed Trump, during a news conference in Delaware.

Biden told how Trump’s words could “incite” or “inspire”. He asked the president to “demand an end to this siege."

He said: "The words of a president matter, no matter how good or bad that president is," before continuing "At their best, the words of a president can inspire. At their worst, they can incite."

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Boris Johnson referred to the march on the Capitol as “Disgraceful scenes in (the) U.S. Congress.”

He added: “The United States stands for democracy around the world and it is now vital that there should be a peaceful and orderly transfer of power.”

Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, expressed his concerns and said he was following the actions “minute by minute”.

He later added on Twitter: “Canadians are deeply disturbed and saddened by the attack on democracy in the United States, our closest ally and neighbour. Violence will never succeed in overruling the will of the people. Democracy in the US must be upheld - and it will be.”