Twitter made the counterproductive move of locking President Donald Trump out of his Twitter account and removing a video he had posted urging his supporters “to go home” after rioters broke into the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday.
Shortly after the proceedings began in Congress to count the Electoral College vote, agitators made an incursion into the Capitol building, forcing the complex to go into lockdown.
Capitol Police responded to the break-in with teargas and other shows of force.
KUSI-TV reported that Trump supporter Ashli Babbit from San Diego was shot and killed in the Capitol. The circumstances surrounding the shooting of the Air Force veteran are under investigation, the Washington Metropolitan Police Department said.
“Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement. They are truly on the side of our Country. Stay peaceful!”
The president followed that with a second tweet about a half-hour later: “I am asking for everyone at the U.S. Capitol to remain peaceful. No violence! Remember, WE are the Party of Law & Order – respect the Law and our great men and women in Blue. Thank you!”
The two tweets received well over a million likes, retweets and replies between them.
In other words, they were widely distributed to get the word out about how Trump felt about the violence.
However, Twitter would not allow a third tweet by the president, in which he addressed his supporters in a video from the White House, to be liked, retweeted without comment or replied to, as is normal.
The company said it was because Trump’s message also contained allegations of election fraud that it said could lead to violence.
Twitter later deleted the video altogether and then suspended him from the platform for at least 12 hours.
“As a result of the unprecedented and ongoing violent situation in Washington, D.C., we have required the removal of three @realDonaldTrump Tweets that were posted earlier today for repeated and severe violations of our Civic Integrity policy,” the social media platform announced.
“This means that the account of @realDonaldTrump will be locked for 12 hours following the removal of these Tweets.
“If the Tweets are not removed, the account will remain locked.”
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Trump had shared in the video that he felt the frustration of his supporters who were rallying on his behalf in D.C.
“I know your pain. I know your hurt,” he said. “We had an election that was stolen from us. It was a landslide election, and everyone knows it.”
“You have to go home now. We have to have peace,” the president said. “We have to have law and order. We have to respect our great people in law and order. We don’t want anybody hurt.”
“This was a fraudulent election, but we can’t play into the hands of these people. So go home. We love you,” Trump said.
Are Twitter users’ ears suddenly too sensitive to hear the same allegations he has been making for weeks about the November vote?
The president and many of his supporters have been pointing to the troubling reports from key swing states that raise questions about the integrity of the election.
Some include the no coattails win by Democrat Joe Biden, the unprecedented low absentee ballot rejection rates, the massive one-sided vote tally spikes seen early in the morning following Election Day in states Trump was winning, and the inaccurate ballot counts seen in both Michigan and Georgia, which both happen to use Dominion voting machines.
Another Trump tweet Twitter deleted read, “These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long. Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!”
Of the perhaps hundreds of thousands of MAGA people who converged on D.C. in support of the president, we’re talking about what appear to be maybe some hundreds who went into the Capitol.
Even among that group, a smaller subset engaged in violence beyond the act of entering the Capitol without authorization.
I love the Capitol building. I spent a summer there as a congressional intern and conducted many tours among my other duties. I got to know the place well.
Work has taken me back several times since.
I also love our democratic republic and all it stands for here and around the world.
Some people definitely crossed the line from protester to rioter on Wednesday, and that cannot be tolerated.
Trump recognized this and sought to communicate the message of understanding their anger while saying the violence needed to end.
There is nothing dangerous about that, and Twitter certainly shouldn’t be locking the president’s account because of it.