Twitter has permanently suspended US President Donald Trump’s account due to the risk of further incitement of violence following the storming of the US Capitol on Wednesday by hundreds of his supporters.
The suspension of Trump’s account, which had more than 88 million followers, silences his primary megaphone days before the end of his term and follows years of debate about how social media companies should moderate the accounts of powerful global leaders.
“After close review of recent Tweets from the @realDonaldTrump account and the context around them we have permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence,” the company said in a tweet.
It was the first time Twitter has banned a head of state, the company confirmed.
Social media companies have moved swiftly to crack down on Trump and some of his prominent right-wing allies and supporters in the wake of the turmoil in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, which led to five deaths.
Trump has repeatedly used Twitter and other platforms to claim his defeat in the Nov. 3 election was due to widespread voter fraud and to share other conspiracy theories, and had urged supporters to come to Washington on Wednesday and march on the Capitol to protest the election result.
Facebook Inc said earlier this week it was suspending his account through until at least the end of his presidential term.
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) January 9, 2021
The Republican president is due to hand over to Democratic President-elect Joe Biden on Jan. 20.
In a blog post on Friday, Twitter said that two of the president’s tweets posted that day were in violation of its policy against the glorification of violence.
Twitter had temporarily blocked Trump’s account on Wednesday following the siege of Capitol Hill, and warned that additional violations by the president’s accounts would result in a permanent suspension.
Trump was required to delete three rule-breaking tweets before his account was unblocked. He returned to Twitter on Thursday with a video acknowledging that Biden would be the next U.S. president.
Twitter said that Trump’s tweet that he would not be attending Biden’s inauguration was being received by a number of his supporters as confirmation that the November election was not legitimate.
It said another tweet praising “American Patriots” and saying his supporters “will not be disrespected or treated unfairly in any way, shape or form!!!” could be seen as “further indication that President Trump does not plan to facilitate an orderly transition.”
Critics of major social media platforms, including top Democratic politicians, praised Twitter’s move and said it was long overdue, while Trump supporters expressed outrage.
The president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., in a tweet on Friday decried the ban, saying dictators who had threatened genocide continued to have Twitter accounts. He did not provide names.
The White House had no immediate direct comment. The Trump campaign’s Twitter account criticized the company for “silencing” the president of the United States.
Using the @POTUS account, Trump said he would look at building his own platform.
A pro-Trump mob breached the US Capitol building on Wednesday afternoon, leading to clashes with law enforcement and halting Senate proceedings as Congress voted to certify Electoral College votes for President-elect Joe Biden. Trump supporters created chaos that resulted in rioting and violence, forcing world leaders to condemn the ugly scenes.
The Capitol building houses the US Congress and is the seat of the legislative branch of the US government. One woman was killed in the violence that followed after supporters of US President Donald Trump stormed the US Capitol and disrupted electoral count on Wednesday. Lawmakers were evacuated from the US Capitol after protesters breached security and entered the premises.
According to the Washington Post, “at the U.S. Capitol, throngs of people pushed past police who were trying to block them from entering the building as lawmakers inside debated counting electoral college votes confirming Biden’s victory. A mob was able to breach security and successfully enter the building, where one person was shot and later died.”
In a televised speech, Biden condemned Trump for stoking the violence. “I call on this mob to pull back and allow the work of democracy to go forward,” he said.