YouTube is the latest platform to ban US President Donald Trump for violating policies and inciting violence, joining Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, which have taken a similar course of action. The YouTube suspension comes a week after an attack on the US Capitol by the president’s supporters, who tried to halt the certification by Congress of President-elect Joe Biden’s election win. We take a look at all the big tech platforms, which have taken action against the US President.
YouTube confirmed the seven-day ban in a series of tweets. It said, “After review, and in light of concerns about the ongoing potential for violence, we removed new content uploaded to Donald J. Trump’s channel for violating our policies. It now has its 1st strike & is temporarily prevented from uploading new content for a *minimum* of 7 days.”
YouTube will also disable comments on Trump’s channel given the threats of violence. It added that it has done the same for other channels where there are safety concerns. Trump’s channel cannot upload new videos or livestreams. Given this is just the first strike, the ban might not get extended, unless there are repeated violations.
According to YouTube’s policy, if the channel gets a second strike within the same 90-day period as the first strike, they will not be able to post content for two weeks. “If there are no further issues, full privileges will be restored automatically after the 2-week period, but each strike expires 90 days from the time it was issued,” explains the YouTube support page.
Finally, a third strike in the same 90-day period as the first strike will result in “the channel being permanently removed from YouTube.” Deleting the content does not remove the strike.
Facebook first locked Donald Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts after the attack on Capitol Hill took place on January 6, 2021. Initially in an internal memo to employees, Zuckerberg said he was “saddened by this mob violence,” reported The New York Times. He added that Facebook stepped up the moderation of Trump’s comments because the situation was “an emergency.”
Later on January 7, Zuckerberg wrote a detailed post announcing the ban on Trump’s accounts was being extended indefinitely and that the risk of allowing him to continue were “simply too great”. The Facebook CEO said it was clear that the US president was trying to “undermine the peaceful and lawful transition of power to his elected successor, Joe Biden.” He added that Facebook had removed the President’s statement and video, where he had not condemned the actions of his supporters, but instead talked about a stolen election and mandate.
“We removed these statements yesterday because we judged that their effect — and likely their intent — would be to provoke further violence,” Zuckerberg wrote.
He also explained that Facebook had so far “allowed President Trump” to use the platform over the years as they “believe that the public has a right to the broadest possible access to political speech, even controversial speech.”
So what changed? According to Zuckerberg it was the “current context”, which is “fundamentally different,” and that Trump’s use of Facebook’s platforms to “incite violent insurrection against a democratically elected government,” had forced them to lock the President’s accounts.
“…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,” he concluded in his post.
Twitter had at first locked out Trump’s (@realDonaldTrump) account, where he has nearly 88 million followers. It later “permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence.”
In a detailed blog post, Twitter said it was forced to act after ‘the horrific events’ of the week, referring to the mob violence at the US Capitol. Twitter added that the platform cannot be used to incite violence and also provided a detailed analysis of why Trump was permanently suspended. The US President has enjoyed a lot of support on the platform, and often used it to make most of his key announcements.
Twitter specifically pointed out this particular tweet, which led to the suspension: “The 75,000,000 great American Patriots who voted for me, AMERICA FIRST, and MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN, will have a GIANT VOICE long into the future. They will not be disrespected or treated unfairly in any way, shape or form!!!” In addition to this, it also took into account the President’s tweet saying he would not go to the inauguration on January 20 for President-elect Joe Biden.
According to Twitter, these two tweets of Trump had to be seen in a broader context and the fact that they could be “mobilised by different audiences, including to incite violence, as well as in the context of the pattern of behaviour from this account in recent weeks.”
Further, the tweets were deemed to be in violation of Twitter’s policy against glorification of violence. It also said that these tweets “were highly likely to encourage and inspire people to replicate the criminal acts that took place at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.”
According to Twitter, Trump saying he would not attend the inauguration would be seen by his supporters as confirmation that there was election fraud, a claim which the US president has repeatedly made without evidence. It was also seen as Trump backing off from his earlier claims that there would be a “orderly transition”.
Further Twitter said that the second tweet “may also serve as encouragement to those potentially considering violent acts that the Inauguration would be a ‘safe’ target, as he will not be attending.” Twitter added that based on Trump’s tweets it appeared that he would “continue to support, empower, and shield those who believe he won the election.”
More importantly Twitter acknowledged that there are “plans for future armed protests” which have been circulating “on and off-Twitter”, including plans for another attack at the US capitol and “state capitol buildings on January 17, 2021.” It said there were “multiple indicators” that the tweets are seen as an encouragement to repeat the acts of violence, and that’s why Trump was being removed from the platform.
Snapchat, Twitch, Reddit
Other platforms which have banned Trump include Snapchat, Twitch and Reddit. Snapchat had stopped promoting all Trump content in its Discover feed back in June, 2020. After the violence at Capitol Hill, it indefinitely suspended the US president’s account. A Snap spokesperson said the reason for suspension was the “possible spread of hate speech and threats of violence.”
Reddit had banned the r/The_Donald, a Pro trump thread and other pro-Trump pages earlier in June 2020, for ‘harassment and targeting’. After the violence on January 6, it banned another subreddit called r/DonaldTrump, which had conspiracy theorists posting about a stolen election and asked users to go to the US Capitol.
The subreddit was banned for repeated violations of policy that prohibits content promoting hate speech or glorifies, incites and calls for violence.
Video service Twitch also disabled Trump’s channel indefinitely. It earlier banned Trump in June, but that was a temporary one. “Given the current extraordinary circumstances and the President’s incendiary rhetoric, we believe this is a necessary step to protect our community and prevent Twitch from being used to incite further violence,” the company said in a statement according to The Verge.
Will Trump get his accounts back after he is officially out of office?
Facebook and Instagram have banned Trump for two weeks, at least till the transition of power is done. It remains to be seen if he gets his account back once Joe Biden is president. Twitter has suspended his account permanently, so it is unlikely he will make a comeback. The YouTube ban is for seven days, so the channel could make a return, unless it earns strikes two and three in quick succession.