Twitter has suspended Donald Trump and locked the president out of his account for the next 12 hours, after warning that his tweets posed a “risk of violence.”
The company had originally slapped new warning labels on Trump’s tweets, which stated that “his claim of election fraud is disputed, and this Tweet can’t be replied to, retweeted, or liked due to a risk of violence.” The labels were applied to a one-minute video that told his supporters to “go home now” and praised the rioters as “very special” people, as well as a separate message urging his followers to “remember this day forever.” It was also added to a tweet criticizing Mike Pence.
The labels came amid mob violence in Washington D.C. as rioters stormed the Capitol as Congress met to certify the results of the election. Twitter said the president’s words could incite further violence, and cited its civic integrity policy. The company said on its @TwitterSafety account that it was “significantly restricting engagement with Tweets labeled under our Civic Integrity Policy due to the risk of violence,” and that it was “exploring other escalated enforcement actions.”
Hours later, the company clarified just what “escalated enforcement actions” would look like. First, the three previously-labeled tweets from Trump appeared to have been removed, with notices that “this Tweet is no longer available.” The company later confirmed that it was requiring the tweets to be removed and that it had temporarily suspended Trump from its platform for 12 hours.
The move was a major departure for Twitter, which had previously cited a “public interest policy” that provided special protections to world leaders, even if their messages may otherwise violate the company’s policies. But faced with violence in Washington D.C., and mounting pressure to do more than label, Twitter said the policy had reached its limit. “Our public interest policy — which has guided our enforcement action in this area for years — ends where we believe the risk of harm is higher and/or more severe,” Twitter said.
Furthermore, the company said that future violations of its civic integrity policy could result in a permanent ban for Trump. (The company had previously confirmed that it would no longer give Trump special consideration once he left office.)
Facebook and YouTube also removed Trump’s video from their platforms, though the company cited different reasons for doing so. YouTube said the video, which called the 2020 election results “fraudulent” broke its election policies, while Facebook stated “it contributes to rather than diminishes the risk of ongoing violence.”
This post has been updated.