In a post announcing the unprecedented move, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said the risk of allowing Trump to use the platform is too great following what he said was the president’s “incitement” of a mob at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday.
Zuckerberg says Trump’s account will be locked “for at least the next two weeks” but could remain locked indefinitely.
“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,” Zuckerberg wrote.
Trump has repeatedly harnessed the power of social media to address election integrity and the results of the presidential race. Platforms like Facebook have censored some of his posts, but the overall response has failed to satisfy a growing number of critics who say the platforms have enabled the spread of “dangerous misinformation.”
In light of Wednesday’s limited violence during an otherwise mostly peaceful protest by hundreds of thousands of Trump supporters, however, Zuckerberg said a more aggressive approach is needed.
“The current context is now fundamentally different, involving use of our platform to incite violent insurrection against a democratically elected government,” he wrote.
Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, will also block Trump’s ability to post on its platform “indefinitely and for at least the next two weeks,” Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram tweeted Thursday.
Twitter also locked Trump’s accounts for 12 hours after he repeatedly questioned the integrity of the election. That suspension was set to expire sometime Thursday; The president had not yet resumed tweeting as of late Thursday morning.
A company spokesman said the company could take further action as well.
“We’re continuing to evaluate the situation in real time, including examining activity on the ground and statements made off Twitter,” the spokesman said. “We will keep the public informed, including if further escalation in our enforcement approach is necessary.”
Google-owned YouTube also removed Trump’s video message to supporters Wednesday but the company didn’t immediately respond Thursday to questions about whether it was taking additional actions. The most recent videos posted to Trump’s YouTube account on Thursday were from a day earlier and mostly featured Fox News and C-SPAN coverage of congressional hearings.
The platforms continue to face criticism from users who blamed them, in part, for creating an online environment that led to Wednesday’s violence.
“Today is the result of allowing people with hate in their hearts to use platforms that should be used to bring people together,” singer Selena Gomez wrote on Twitter to her 64 million followers. “”You have all failed the American people today, and I hope you’re going to fix things moving forward.”
Thomas Rid, a Johns Hopkins cyberconflict scholar, tweeted “kudos and respect” to Zuckerberg and Facebook shortly after the announcement that Trump’s account would be locked for two weeks.
“Clearly the right move,” Rid said. “Consistent incitement to political violence is not acceptable. Twitter should do so as well.”
A message left with the White House on Thursday morning was not immediately returned.
Adapted from reporting by Associated Press.