Tech & The Web

Trump Faces Social Media Lockout Over Post-Riot Video

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President Donald Trump found himself under a social media lockout Wednesday night after the service blocked three of his tweets.

Two platforms decided to impose a social media lockout on President Donald Trump’s accounts Wednesday after a violent riot erupted in the nation’s capital. By Wednesday night, both Facebook and Twitter locked down Trump’s accounts.

YouTube, meanwhile, deleted a video that, in part, prompted the other two to take more drastic action.

The video came after rioting in the nation’s capital that interrupted Congress as it worked to affirm the Electoral College vote. That vote, of course, officially puts Joe Biden in the White House on Jan. 20.

But protesters fired up after listening to the president address them marched to the U.S. Capitol building. Eventually, they forced their way inside and clashed with Capitol Police. One woman died after being shot inside the building.

Late in the afternoon, Trump posted a short video to his supporters who were at the capitol. Many might have expected a video calling for unity and patience. But his tone did not change.

“I know your pain. I know you’re hurt. We had an election that was stolen from us,” he began.

He repeated a claim that he won by a landslide.

“But you have to go home now,” he said. “We have to have peace. We have to have law and order.”

He called it a “very tough period of time” because of the “fraudulent” election.

“But we can’t play into the hands of these people,” Trump continued. “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.”

Social media companies respond

Twitter and Facebook initially flagged the post without removing it entirely, The Hill reported.

Twitter added an advisory calling the fraud claims disputed. But it also prevented users from replying, retweeting or liking it.

But within a couple of hours all three platforms had taken the video down.

On Twitter, the video was replaced by a simple message: “This Tweet is no longer available because it violated the Twitter rules.”

Twitter also removed two additional tweets for what it called “repeated and severe violations” of its Civic Integrity policy.

Twitter said it locked Trump’s account for 12 hours, but threatened permanent suspension.

Later in the evening, Facebook announced it froze Trump’s account for 24 hours.

Will the social media lockout really make a difference?

Probably not.

At Wednesday morning’s rally, Trump touted his self-proclaimed victory. He told the crowd he received nearly 75 million votes — more votes than any other incumbent president.

That’s true. He did. I don’t know of anyone who disputes that.

Then he asked whether anyone in the crowd really believed Biden received 80 million. And there’s the problem. It’s clear some of the 74.2 million whose votes went to Trump don’t believe it. It’s even more clear that few if any who attended that rally believe it.

I truly believe that Trump does not believe it. I think he disbelieves it with all of the passion within him.

But they all seem to ignore that other 80 million. Clearly, they do believe it. And when you just do the simple math, you can easily see that they outnumber the ones who don’t believe it.

Simple math won’t change Trump’s mind. It won’t change the minds of his diehard supporters, either.

Silencing him on those platforms won’t, either. Even if the social media lockouts end, he’ll surely violate the policies again. And if they ban him altogether, he’ll find a way to be heard.

But for too long, people complained about social media not doing enough to stop misinformation. They took action Wednesday night.

For some, that action targeted the wrong side. For others, that action came far too late.

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 29 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.