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Facebook bans Trump through Biden inauguration, maybe longer

After years of treating President Donald Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric with a light touch, Facebook and Instagram are silencing his social media accounts for the rest of his presidency. The move, which many called justified following Wednesday’s insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, is also a somber reminder of the enormous power that social-media platforms can exercise when they choose.

Facebook and Instagram said Thursday they will bar Trump from posting at least until the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.

In a post announcing the unprecedented move, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said the risk of allowing Trump to use the platform is too great following the president’s incitement of a mob that touched off Wednesday’s deadly riot at the Capitol. Zuckerberg says Trump’s account will be locked “for at least the next two weeks” but could remain locked indefinitely.

“The shocking events of the last 24 hours clearly demonstrate that President Donald Trump intends to use his remaining time in office to undermine the peaceful and lawful transition of power to his elected successor, Joe Biden,” Zuckerberg wrote.

Trump has repeatedly harnessed the power of social media to spread falsehoods about election integrity and the results of the presidential race. Platforms like Facebook have occasionally labeled or even removed some of his posts, but the overall response has failed to satisfy a growing number of critics who say the platforms have enabled the spread of dangerous misinformation.


In light of Wednesday’s riot, however, Zuckerberg said a more aggressive approach is needed.

“The current context is now fundamentally different, involving use of our platform to incite violent insurrection against a democratically elected government,” he wrote.

Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, will also block Trump’s ability to post on its platform “indefinitely and for at least the next two weeks,” Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram tweeted Thursday.


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