Facebook extends Trump’s suspension until at least Biden inauguration


Facebook is extending President Trump’s suspension indefinitely, at least until President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, following the president’s comments about Wednesday’s riots at the Capitol.

“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 US and around the world,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote Thursday on Facebook. “We believe the risks of allowing the President to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great.”

The company had initially locked Trump from accessing his Facebook and Instagram accounts for 24 hours starting Wednesday night.

The decision to extend the suspension indefinitely is a marked change from Facebook’s previous hands-off approach to political content, even when Trump appeared to encourage violence.

“We did this because we believe that the public has a right to the broadest possible access to political speech, even controversial speech,” Zuckerberg explained. “But the current context is now fundamentally different, involving use of our platform to incite violent insurrection against a democratically elected government.”

The move comes just two days after Democrats swept the Georgia Senate runoffs, giving them full control of Congress and the White House.

Twitter also chose to suspend Trump’s account for the same set of posts Wednesday night, though only for 12 hours.

A spokesperson for Twitter declined to comment on plans to extend that suspension, which expired Thursday morning.

The first violating post was a video urging Trump’s supporters who broke into the Capitol to retreat while simultaneously praising the mob and repeating false claims about voter fraud.

“This was a fraudulent election, but we can’t play into the hands of these people,” Trump said in the video. “We have to have peace. So go home. We love you. You’re very special. You’ve seen what happens. You see the way others are treated that are so bad and so evil. I know how you feel. But go home and go home in peace.”

The second video struck a similar tone, urging rioters to “go home” while repeating false claims of his “landslide victory.”

The decision to limit Trump’s account now, after his supporters stormed Congress, is unlikely to satisfy the civil rights groups and academics who have been calling on the platform to act for years.

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), who’s expected to take the gavel as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee later this month, called the actions too little too late.

“While I’m pleased to see social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube take long-belated steps to address the President’s sustained misuse of their platforms to sow discord and violence, these isolated actions are both too late and not nearly enough,” he said in a statement Thursday. “Disinformation and extremism researchers have for years pointed to broader network-based exploitation of these platforms.”

Many of Wednesday’s protests were organized on Facebook, and the platform was used by Trump and his allies to delegitimize the results of the election with little punishment beyond vague labels.

Updated at 12:13 p.m.

Tags Capitol breach Donald Trump Facebook Joe Biden Mark Warner Mark Zuckerberg

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