Facebook Extends Trump Block At Least Through End of His Presidency

Facebook - logo is seen on a phone -Getty - H 2020
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"We believe the risks of allowing the President to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great," Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote on Thursday morning.

Facebook is extending its block on Donald Trump's account in the most sweeping action that a social media platform has taken against the president.

The block will limit Trump's access to his Facebook and Instagram account for at least the final two weeks of his term. It extends a temporary block that the tech giant placed on his account late on Wednesday after he posted messages that encouraged his supporters to storm the Capitol amid Congress' confirmation of Joe Biden as the next president.

"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," Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post on Thursday morning in which he said that the company would extend its block "indefinitely" for at least the next two weeks until Biden's Jan. 20 inauguration.

"We believe the risks of allowing the President to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great," he concluded.

On Wednesday, a pro-Trump mob, urged on by the president, stormed the U.S. Capitol building, forcing members of Congress to seek shelter for several hours. In a series of missives posted to Twitter and Facebook, Trump encouraged the rioters by reiterating false claims about how the election was stolen from him. In a rare move for the tech giants that run those platforms, they removed the messages — including a video from Trump to his supporters — for violating their terms of service.

Twitter and Facebook followed up the removal of those posts with temporary bans on Trump's account, limiting his ability to publish new post or interact with his followers. Twitter has yet to indicate whether it will follow Facebook in extending its ban.

Facebook's move to hamper Trump's reach on its platforms — where he has around 60 million total followers — follows an outcry by many users, including public figures like Sacha Baron Cohen, about how the social media platform has handled his posts, particularly those that incite violence and contain misinformation about the 2020 election. The tech platforms, often citing the newsworthiness of Trump's posts because of his status as an elected official, over the years have taken little action against him for violating the terms of their services.

"Over the last several years, 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," Zuckerberg wrote on Thursday. "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."