In a remarkable move, which the Washington Post described as “a dramatic escalation of the conflict between Silicon Valley and the White House,” Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg has banned the President of the United States from using Facebook through the remainder of his term in office.
Zuckerberg stated, “We believe the risks of allowing the President to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great.” Thus, “we are extending the block we have placed on his Facebook and Instagram accounts indefinitely and for at least the next two weeks until the peaceful transition of power is complete.”
In his statement, posted on the Facebook platform just hours ago, Zuckerberg made the bold and incorrect statement that President Trump’s “decision to use his platform to condone rather than condemn the actions of his supporters at the Capitol building” was too disturbing to his company’s users to allow him to continue posting. He continued, “We removed these statements yesterday because we judged that their effect — and likely their intent — would be to provoke further violence.”
Giving voice to the democratic ideal of the free exchange of ideas, and letting speech be judged on its own merits by a discerning public, the Facebook executive confessed, “we believe that the public has a right to the broadest possible access to political speech, even controversial speech.” Apparently Facebook believes there are certain situational limits to this fundamental democratic and clear constitutional value and they know what those are, explaining, “But the current context is now fundamentally different, involving use of our platform to incite violent insurrection against a democratically elected government.”
Twitter officially declared it was locking President Trump’s account on the social media platform yesterday until he deleted some tweets from earlier in the day. They charged his tweets served “the purpose of manipulating or interfering in elections or other civic processes.”
This means that the account of @realDonaldTrump will be locked for 12 hours following the removal of these Tweets. If the Tweets are not removed, the account will remain locked.
— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) January 7, 2021
At press time, President Trump’s twitter account has been inactive since yesterday afternoon.
Zuckerberg’s complete statement and rationale for blocking the President’s Facebook and Instagram accounts through the remainder of his time in office can be read here.
Tech Crunch, an insider’s news site covering the tech world, noted of Zuckerberg’s statement,
There’s a lot of careful, heavily PR’d language doing heavy lifting here – Zuck is careful to say that use until now has lined up with the platform’s rules in place, and not instead been an exception to them, and he’s also careful not to say Trump has directly incited violent insurrection… Still, this is the strongest action by far from the platform to date to limit Trump’s access.
Photo from Erin Scott/REUTERS