Social media networks have been clamping down on any rhetoric posted to their platforms that in any way supports the election protesters’ underlying arguments in the wake of last week’s riot on Capitol Hill.
As a recent example, Facebook is scrubbing any mention of the words “stop the steal,” a rallying cry among Trump supporters upset by the results of the Electoral College vote tally.
“Attempts to organize events”
Ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, the move marks just the latest in an unprecedented crackdown on political speech by Big Tech firms far and wide.
Facebook became one of the many platforms to indefinitely suspend the president after his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol building on Wednesday. Five individuals died in the ensuing chaos.
In the days the followed, private companies took various steps to distance themselves from related rhetoric and Trump in general.
For Facebook’s part, that effort reportedly includes any references to “stop the steal,” arguing that the bold move is necessary to promote public safety. The phrase has been used by Trump supporters to protest the alleged fraud responsible for President-elect Joe Biden’s win in November’s election.
The company said that “with continued attempts to organize events against the outcome of the US presidential election that can lead to violence,” its moderators will be banning the use of the phrase.
“Big Tech is doing a horrible thing”
Facebook’s announcement cited “our Coordinating Harm policy from Facebook & Instagram,” noting that it “removed the Stop the Steal group in November and continue to remove Pages, groups & events that violate our policies.”
In a statement on Thursday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that the “risks of allowing the President to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great.”
The company went on to say that Trump’s “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.”
In addition to blocking content, Facebook has also temporarily blocked all political and election-related advertising on the platform — including those by the Trump campaign.
While in Texas on Tuesday, Trump denounced the decision, asserting: “Big Tech is doing a horrible thing for our country and to our country, and I believe it’s going to be a catastrophic mistake for them,” he said. “I’ve never seen such anger as I see right now, and that’s a terrible thing.”