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Amid violence, Twitter suspends Trump account, threatens permanent ban

Move comes after social media sites take down Trump video and statements that justified mob attack on US Capitol and continue to deny election results

A screenshot of US President Donald Trump's Twitter account with two posts blocked by Twitter, on December 6, 2021 (screenshot)
A screenshot of US President Donald Trump's Twitter account with two posts blocked by Twitter, on December 6, 2021 (screenshot)

In an unprecedented step, Twitter suspended the account of US President Donald Trump for 12 hours Wednesday when he repeatedly posted false accusations about the election after his supporters stormed the Capitol following a Trump rally.

Twitter said that future violations by Trump would result in a permanent suspension.

Earlier in the day, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube all removed a short video from Trump in which he urged those supporters Wednesday to “go home” while also repeating falsehoods about the integrity of the presidential election.

Trump posted that video more than two hours after protesters entered the Capitol, interrupting lawmakers meeting in an extraordinary joint session to confirm the Electoral College results and President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.

Guy Rosen, Facebook’s vice president of integrity, said on Twitter Wednesday that the video was removed because it “contributes to rather than diminishes the risk of ongoing violence.”

“This is an emergency situation and we are taking appropriate emergency measures, including removing President Trump’s video,” Rosen said on Twitter.

Twitter initially left the video up but blocked people from being able to retweet it or comment on it. Only later in the day did the platform delete it entirely.

Trump opened his video saying, “I know your pain. I know your hurt. But you have to go home now.”

After repeating false claims about voter fraud affecting the election, Trump went on to say: “We can’t play into the hands of these people. We have to have peace. So go home. We love you. You’re very special.”

Supporters of US President Donald Trump climb the west wall of the the US Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

Republican lawmakers and previous administration officials had begged Trump to give a statement to his supporters to quell the violence. The statement came as authorities struggled to take control of a chaotic situation at the Capitol that led to the evacuation of lawmakers and the death of at least one person.

Later, in the second tweet, he appeared to justify the violence as inevitable.

“These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long,” he tweeted. “Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!”

Trump has harnessed social media — especially Twitter — as a potent tool for spreading misinformation about the election. Wednesday’s riot only increased calls to ban Trump from the platform.

Supporters of US President Donald Trump are confronted by Capitol Police officers outside the Senate Chamber inside the Capitol, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021 in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

“The President has promoted sedition and incited violence,” Jonathan Greenblatt, chief executive officer of the Anti-Defamation League said in a statement. “More than anything, what is happening right now at the Capitol is a direct result of the fear and disinformation that has been spewed consistently from the Oval Office.”

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