YouTube, Twitter and Facebook clamped down on one of President Donald Trump’s posts Wednesday after he called for rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol to “go home” but repeated the baseless allegations of a rigged election that drew scores of his supporters to Washington.
In a 62-second video posted on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook Wednesday afternoon, Trump repeated his baseless claims that the presidential election had been “stolen.”
Within minutes, Twitter blocked users from replying to, liking or retweeting the post without added context, citing a “risk of violence.” But it did not remove the video or suspend his Twitter account, despite calls for that action by people and groups who said the president was using the social media platform to incite violence.
YouTube separately removed the video, according to a company spokesperson, who said the post violated its policies against content alleging widespread voter fraud during the 2020 elections. The spokesperson said YouTube would allow users to repost the video if it contained additional educational context.
Facebook initially handled the post by adding a label that directed users to authoritative sources of information on the election and read, “The US has laws, procedures, and establishment institutions to ensure the integrity of our elections.” But it later escalated its decision by removing the post entirely.
"This is an emergency situation and we are taking appropriate emergency measures, including removing President Trump’s video," tweeted Facebook integrity chief Guy Rosen. "We removed it because on balance we believe it contributes to rather than diminishes the risk of ongoing violence."
Trump used the video to continue claiming falsely that he, not President-elect Joe Biden, had won in November.
“It was a landslide election and everyone knows it, especially the other side, but you have to go home now. We have to have peace. We have to have law and order,” Trump said in the video, hours after a crowd of rioters breached the Capitol building and invaded the House and Senate chambers.
Twitter later restricted the spread of a tweet in which Trump appeared to justify the violence, writing: "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."
He added: "Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!"
Twitter’s public safety division tweeted that the social media company is “working proactively to protect the health of the public conversation occurring on the service and will take action on any content that violates” its rules. The social media platform also said it is “exploring other escalated enforcement actions,” without elaborating.
The companies have long faced criticism from Democratic leaders, civil rights groups and other advocates that they have failed to enforce their policies against the incitement of violence on their platforms when it comes to Trump and his allies.
The social media platforms faced fresh calls to suspend or remove Trump amid Wednesday’s unrest, which caused Capitol Hill to go into lockdown and for lawmakers to evacuate in gas masks as police dispersed tear gas against rioters.
Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, issued a statement Wednesday saying that “social media companies should suspend his accounts ASAP as they would do for anyone else advocating disinformation and promoting violence."
Rashad Robinson, president of advocacy group Color of Changed, tweeted Wednesday: “Enough is enough. It’s time for Facebook and Twitter to kick Trump off their platforms.”