WASHINGTON - Facebook Inc said on Thursday (Jan 7) it would block US President Donald Trump’s accounts “indefinitely” and for at least the next two weeks until the presidential transition is completed.
The decision by Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg comes after Facebook announced on Wednesday (Jan 6) it would lock Trump’s account for 24 hours as tech giants scrambled to crack down on his baseless claims about the US presidential election and hundreds of Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol.
“We believe the risks of allowing the President to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great,” Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post on Thursday.
He said the block would also apply to Facebook-owned Instagram.
Twitter and Snap also temporarily locked Trump’s accounts on Wednesday.
Civil rights groups including the Anti-Defamation League and Color of Change have called for social media companies to suspend Trump’s accounts permanently.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Social media companies have been under pressure to police misinformation about the US election on their platforms, including from the president. Trump and his allies for months have amplified baseless claims of election fraud and the president told protesters to go to Capitol Hill, with both Republicans and Democrats saying he was responsible for the resulting violence.
In a video posted to Facebook, Twitter and YouTube on Wednesday, which was later deleted by the platforms, Trump repeated election fraud claims as he told protesters to go home.
“His decision to use his platform to condone rather than condemn the actions of his supporters at the Capitol building has rightly disturbed people in the US and around the world,” said Zuckerberg in his Thursday post.
The Anti-Defamation League praised Facebook’s move, calling it “an obvious first step” while the NAACP in a statement said the move was a “long overdue” gesture that “rings hollow”.
Facebook has previously been blasted by lawmakers and employees for not acting on inflammatory posts from Trump, including those that have been labelled by Twitter.
Meanwhile, Canada’s Shopify Inc also took down stores affiliated with Trump from its e-commerce platform on Thursday. Shopify said the recent events determined that Trump’s actions violated its policy, which prohibits promotion or support of organisations, platforms or people that threaten or condone violence to further a cause.
Attempts to access TrumpStore.com and shop.donaldjtrump.com, which sold “Make America Great Again” hats and similar items, were unsuccessful on Thursday, as the websites displayed error messages.