Facebook has joined Twitter in this decision by mentioning, in the early evening, the closure of access to Trump's official page for twenty-four hours
President shared a video of his speech, encouraging his supporters to oppose
the outcome of the votes in front of Capitol Hill in Washington.
Donald Trump crossed a new line on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube politics Wednesday night in the United States. The outgoing president has just been banned from his two most important communication accounts, including his 88 million-subscriber Twitter account, where he will no longer be able to post messages for 12 hours.
As a result of the unprecedented and ongoing violent situation in Washington, D.C., we have required the removal of three @realDonaldTrump Tweets that were posted earlier today for repeated and severe violations of our Civic Integrity policy. https://t.co/k6OkjNG3bM— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) January 7, 2021
Facebook has joined Twitter in this decision by mentioning, in the early evening, the closure of access to Donald Trump's official page for twenty-four hours. Instagram would not be concerned: Facebook and Twitter had mainly joined YouTube to delete a video excerpt from the outgoing president's speech in which he encouraged his supporters to come and challenge the results of the presidential and Senate elections.
An "emergency situation" for Facebook
"This is an emergency situation and we are taking appropriate emergency measures, including removing the video of President Trump," said Facebook spokesperson Guy Rosen. An hour after the video was posted, the social network decided to delete it. Twitter joined Facebook in the rush to remove Donald Trump from his personal account, the @realDonaldTrump profile. Facebook was quick to follow suit, preferring 24 hours rather than 12 hours.
We've assessed two policy violations against President Trump's Page which will result in a 24-hour feature block, meaning he will lose the ability to post on the platform during that time.— Facebook Newsroom (@fbnewsroom) January 7, 2021
The situation is unprecedented, but many people were already offended by the idea that Trump could be treated differently than normal Internet users. More generally, the hashtag "Delete" ("suppress") was in trend all night long in the United States and Canada, a message of demands there again to ask social networks to permanently delete the accounts of the 45th American president.
YouTube: measures for its (new) policy
Behind the announcement of the blocking of Donald Trump's Twitter and Facebook accounts, Google joined the movement through YouTube. The outgoing president had also published the excerpt of his speech on the platform, and for one of the first times, the streaming service was enforcing its moderation towards Donald Trump.
As new as this decision is, YouTube will only be able to justify it with a brand new moderation policy that came into effect last December. The posted content related to the election challenge was part of the new topics to which YouTube reserves the right to remove. The new measure was directly related to users' criticism of YouTube's passive conduct on content posted by the U.S. President. Google no longer wishes to receive criticism around this disinformation content, now that Donald Trump has been removed from a second term to become the 46th President of the United States.
At the time, YouTube did not follow the same logic. On Twitter, the platform had already defended itself - a bit like Mark Zuckerberg's original vision with Facebook - that "like other companies, we allow these videos because the discussion of election results and the vote-counting process are allowed on YouTube. These videos are not shown or recommended visibly and prominently.
Section 230: a review of a moderation debate
Naturally, Facebook and Twitter decisions have attracted a lot of criticism, too, from Donald Trump's supporters. But not to be confused, a lot of broader criticism has converged around "section 230", part of the "decency of communications" law. Debated in late October in the Senate by a committee of the Senate Commerce Committee, it led to a hearing of Facebook and Twitter CEOs Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey.
The text in question quickly became a symbol of the issue of moderation on social networks. A double-edged sword, it protects on the one hand Internet users from being able to post what they want on the Internet without fear of legal repercussions, and on the other hand, it leaves it up to administrators to moderate content. Globally, Democrats and Republicans are opposed to each other on this issue, and the will to censor is not driven by the same motivations on each side.
"You are unbelievable. This is censorship and absolute suppression of free speech. I hope that the 230 will be repealed and that you will be prosecuted," reacted one Internet user following Twitter's decision.
"Twitter is a private for-profit company in a free market. They have their own content guidelines and policies. This has nothing to do with the First Amendment," another said.