Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday said the social media platform and its sister company Instagram would extend the ban on United States President Donald Trump’s account for an indefinite period. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter had on Wednesday blocked Trump’s accounts for policy violations after his supporters stormed the Capitol building in Washington DC and clashed with the police.
In a Facebook post on Thursday, Zuckerberg said that the risks of allowing Trump to continue to use the platform was too great. “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,” he said.
The Facebook CEO said that the violence at the Capitol complex showed that the president intends to use his remaining time in office to undermine the transition of power to his successor Joe Biden. “Following the certification of the election results by Congress, the priority for the whole country must now be to ensure that the remaining 13 days and the days after inauguration pass peacefully and in accordance with established democratic norms.” he said. Biden will assume the office of the president of the United States on January 20.
Zuckerberg said that Facebook had allowed Trump to use the platform – while occasionally removing content or labelling his posts that violated the company’s policies – because the social media platform believed in the right to the access to political speech, even though they are controversial. “But the current context is now fundamentally different, involving use of our platform to incite violent insurrection against a democratically elected government,” he said. The Facebook founder added that Trump’s decision to use the social media 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.”
However, Twitter, which had also blocked Trump’s account, is set to restore Trump’s account on Thursday, The Washington Post reported. Twitter had asked Trump to delete the tweets so that that he can access his account, but also it made clear it planned to escalate its enforcement efforts and suspend the president permanently if he continues to break the company’s rules. The president had deleted his tweets.
Twitter is yet to comment on whether it has restored Trump’s account. The account was locked for twelve hours. Based on the timing, Trump should have gained access to his account. However, the president, who regularly tweets, has not yet posted anything.
At a rally on Wednesday, Trump had urged his supporters to march to the Capitol. A mob had later entered the Capitol building as members of the Congress met to certify the results of the 2020 presidential elections, which Joe Biden won. At least four people died in the violence.
The incident triggered shock in the US and across the world.
Lawmakers put on gas masks and crouched under their desks as the police tried to secure the complex. The House was evacuated at first, but it reconvened hours later to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s election victory.