Twitter, Facebook Temporarily Freeze Trump's Accounts Following Capitol Hill Riot

President Trump Addresses Protesters In D.C. Via Video Statement
Joshua Roberts/Getty Images

President Trump addressing rioters in a video message that has since been removed by social media platforms.

Earlier in the day, the social media companies removed a video from their platforms in which Trump reiterated false claims about the 2020 election.

Twitter and Facebook have imposed temporary freezes on President Donald Trump's social media accounts hours after his supporters stormed the Capitol building and disrupted the Electoral College vote count.

The unprecedented move by the tech companies follows their earlier decision to remove a video that Trump released on Wednesday afternoon in which he told the rioters to "go home now" while also reiterating the false claim that the 2020 election was stolen from him.

The New York Times earlier reported that YouTube and Facebook had taken the video down. But the removal from the three major social media platforms didn't stop it from being widely viewed. Twitter, in particular, kept the video up on its platform for more than two hours, allowing it to rack up 13 million views. The social network had affixed a label on the Trump tweet containing the video, that includes the messaging, "This claim of election fraud is disputed." It has also disabled replies, retweets and likes on the tweet "due to a risk of violence."

Following the removal of the video, Twitter, via its @TwitterSafety account, indicated that it had removed two additional Trump tweets "for repeated and severe violations of our Civic Integrity policy." The company added that the removal of those three posts had prompted it to lock his account for 12 hours. Further violations of its rules would result in permanent suspension. It was an unprecedented level of action for Twitter to take against Trump's account, which it has treated differently than most accounts because his station as an elected official. He will not be granted the same protection after he leaves office on Jan. 20.

Earlier in the day, a Twitter spokeswoman told The Hollywood Reporter, "In regard to the ongoing situation in Washington, DC, Twitter's Trust & Safety teams are working to protect the public conversation occurring on the service and will take action on any content that violates the Twitter Rules."

Facebook followed suit with its own freeze on Trump's account. "We've assessed two policy violations against President Trump's Page which will result in a 24-hour feature block, meaning he will lose the ability to post on the platform during that time," the company said in a statement on Wednesday evening.

Guy Rosen, vp of integrity at Facebook, had previously tweeted that the company removed the video "because on balance we believe it contributes to rather than diminishes the risk of ongoing violence." In a statement, a spokeswoman for Facebook said that the company is "actively reviewing and removing any content that breaks these rules.”

Users of the social platforms have called on the tech giants to shutter Trump's account entirely amid the chaos on Capitol Hill. Sacha Baron Cohen specifically called on Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki and Google CEO Sundar Pichai to ban Trump from their platforms, writing that "Donald Trump just incited a violent attack on American democracy. Is that FINALLY [sic] enough for you to act?!" Other Hollywood figures who have weighed in include Josh Gad and Sarah Silverman.

The social media platforms have in recent years struggled to control the spread of misinformation and violent rhetoric on their platforms, especially when an elected official like Trump has stoked those flames. During the recent presidential election, Twitter and Facebook both liberally affixed labels to messages that contained misinformation.

4:16 p.m. Updated to include Twitter's decision to lock Trump's Twitter account for the next 12 hours.
5:46 p.m. Updated to include Facebook's decision to lock Trump's account for the next 24 hours.