Facebook extended its block on Donald Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts “indefinitely,” with the ban lasting at least until Trump leaves office, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Thursday.
The move comes after Facebook yesterday initially said it would freeze Trump’s access to its services for a 24-hour period, following the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol by pro-Trump rioters who were egged on by the lame-duck president.
Zuckerberg, in a Facebook post, said the ban on Trump will remain in place “for at least the next two weeks until the peaceful transition of power is complete.”
“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. “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 U.S. 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.”
Facebook’s Trump ban is a marked shift for Zuckerberg, who has previously taken a far more laissez-faire stance to dealing with Trump’s most inflammatory posts and numerous lies. “I just believe strongly that Facebook shouldn’t be the arbiter of truth of everything that people say online,” he said in a June 2020 interview with Fox News, adding that “we think that it wouldn’t be right for us to do fact-checks for politicians.”
Zuckerberg has been sharply criticized for not restricting Trump’s use of Facebook platforms, including by the company’s own employees. Last June, hundreds of staffers staged a virtual walkout over Facebook’s failure to take action against Trump’s posts suggesting that government forces would shoot at rioting crowds in Minnesota, in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd. Since then, Facebook has promised it would step up enforcement of hate-speech violations and announced a policy to fact-check politicians, including Trump.
Twitter, meanwhile, froze Trump’s account for a 12-hour period following the violence in the nation’s capital over Trump’s posts praising the mob, and the social network warned that @realDonaldTrump will be banned if the president violates its policies again. A Twitter rep said Trump’s account has deleted the three violating tweets but did not say when the president may be reinstated.
Snapchat also has locked Trump’s account indefinitely, and YouTube (along with Facebook and Twitter) removed the president’s video message to the D.C. mob asking them to go home while also reiterating baseless election-fraud claims and telling the insurrectionists “we love you, you’re very special.”
In his post, Zuckerberg said that “we have allowed President Trump to use our platform consistent with our own rules, at times removing content or labeling his posts when they violate our policies. We did this because we believe that the public has a right to the broadest possible access to political speech, even controversial speech. But the current context is now fundamentally different, involving use of our platform to incite violent insurrection against a democratically elected government.”
The Facebook chief concluded, “We believe the risks of allowing the President to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great.”