Facebook’s suspension marked the most aggressive penalty that any social media company has meted out to Trump over his four-year term, a period in which he has repeatedly peddled falsehoods, attacked critics and spread divisive rhetoric online. Twitter on Wednesday evening also suspended Trump for 12 hours, but the company’s first-ever blockade lifted Thursday morning. By evening, Trump resumed tweeting — sharing a video that acknowledged the “new administration” soon to be inaugurated.
The tech giants each took the rare aggressive steps after a violent mob stormed the House and Senate Wednesday, forcing lawmakers into a lockdown and briefly interrupting their formal process to certify Joe Biden as the next president of the United States. In failing to act until after the deadly riot occurred, Facebook, Twitter and Google-owned YouTube have faced sharp criticism saying they should have done more, and sooner, to stop Trump from helping provoke the situation.
“While I’m pleased to see social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube take long-belated steps to address the President’s sustained misuse of their platforms to sow discord and violence, these isolated actions are both too late and not nearly enough,” Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.) said in a statement. “Disinformation and extremism researchers have for years pointed to broader network-based exploitation of these platforms.”
Critics also noted that the moves by tech companies appeared politically expedient, coming as Democrats take full control of Congress and Trump prepares to depart the White House in 13 days.
“It has not escaped my attention that the day social media companies decided there actually IS more they could do to police Trump’s destructive behavior was the same day that they learned Democrats would chair all the Congressional committees that oversee them,” tweeted Jennifer Palmieri, Hillary Clinton’s former communications director.