Social media companies appear to be cracking down on some of their most prominent and controversial users in the wake of the riot at the Capitol that left five people, including a police officer, dead.
Twitter permanently suspended President Donald Trump’s account on Friday “due to the risk of further incitement of violence.” The company later prevented Trump from circumventing the ban by using the official @POTUS account.
Facebook has also suspended Trump’s account, including his Instagram, at least until he leaves office January 20, while YouTube, Google, Apple and Reddit are also acting to deal with potentially dangerous content on their platforms.
Twitter permanently suspended prominent pro-Trump attorney Lin Wood on Thursday. He had falsely claimed the riot at the Capitol was “staged” by Antifa, though Twitter did not cite any specific tweets as the cause for the suspension.
Wood had previously used the platform to share unfounded claims of mass voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election and accusations against Chief Justice John Roberts.
The following day, “Kraken” attorney Sidney Powell’s account was banned. She had also engaged in conspiracies about the election and now faces a $1.3 billion libel lawsuit from Dominion Voting Systems.
Former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn was also banned on Friday in what some media outlets dubbed a “purge” of QAnon-related accounts.
He was joined by Ron Watkins, administrator of 8kun (formerly 8chan), who is closely associated with the QAnon conspiracy theory that posits a number of false and outlandish claims, including that senior Democrats eat children.
Prominent conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh deactivated his Twitter account following the president’s suspension, while conservative commentator Dan Bongino announced he would leave the social site for Parler following a temporary suspension.
Many of those suspended by Twitter already have accounts with Parler, which bills itself as a pro-free speech alternative. However, the future of the site is in question after Apple and Google both said Friday they were insisting Parler instituted a content moderation policy.
Google suspended Parler from the Google Play Store until it introduces “robust moderation for egregious content” while Apple threatened to ban Parler from the App Store if it didn’t adopt a moderation policy.
YouTube, which is owned by Google, banned Steve Bannon’s “War Room” podcast for violating the site’s terms of service on Friday. Bannon is a former White House chief strategist and seen by many as the architect of Trump’s political success.
Online message board Reddit banned the subreddit r/donaldtrump on Friday, which had tens of thousands of members. It was one of the most visible pro-Trump online communities.
“We have also taken action to ban the community r/donaldtrump given repeated policy violations in recent days regarding the violence at the U.S. Capitol,” Reddit said in a statement.
In addition, Snapchat has disabled Trump’s account and Shopify removed two online stores selling the president’s merchandise.