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Twitter suspends Trump's account for 12 hours for violations of 'Civic Integrity Policy'

Last Updated Jan 7, 2021 at 8:32 pm EST

FILE - In this Dec. 12, 2020, file photo President Donald Trump walks on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington before boarding Marine One. Unemployment benefits for millions of Americans struggling to make ends meet were set to lapse at midnight Saturday night unless Trump signed an end-of-year COVID relief and spending bill that had been considered a done deal before his sudden objections. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

Twitter has suspended U.S. President Donald Trump’s Twitter account for 12 hours after he posted “repeated and severe violations of [their] Civic Integrity policy.”

Trump had three tweets removed on Wednesday afternoon, including a video message posted as his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol.

In the pre-taped video, Trump told supporters the election was stolen from them but also asked them to go home.

“I know your pain. I know your hurt. But you have to go home now,” he said. “We can’t play into the hands of these people. We have to have peace. So go home. We love you. You’re very special.”

The video statement came shortly after President-elect Joe Biden urged Trump to address his supporters and was taken down shortly after by Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

The statement posted on @TwitterSafety says future violations could result in the permanent suspension of his Twitter account.

Trump currently has 88.7 million followers on the social media platform.

Facebook and Instagram, which Facebook owns, later announcing that Trump wouldn’t be able to post for 24 hours following two violations of its policies. The White House did not immediately offer a response to the actions.

While some cheered Twitter’s actions, experts noted that the companies’ actions follow years of hemming and hawing on Trump and his supporters spreading dangerous misinformation and encouraging violence that have contributed to Wednesday’s violence.

Jennifer Grygiel, a Syracuse University communications professor and an expert on social media, said Wednesday’s events in Washington, D.C. are a direct result of Trump’s use of social media to spread propaganda and disinformation, and that the platforms should bear some responsibility for their inaction.

“This is what happens,” said Grygiel, who uses they/them pronouns. “We didn’t just see a breach at the Capitol. Social media platforms have been breached by the president repeatedly. This is disinformation. This was a coup attempt in the United States.”

Grygiel said the platform’s decision to remove the video – and Twitter’s suspension – are too little, too late.

“They’re creeping along towards firmer action,” they said, calling Trump “Exhibit A” for the need for greater regulation of social media. “Social media is complicit in this because he has repeatedly used social media to incite violence. It’s a culmination of years of propaganda and abuse of media by the president of the United States.”

Guy Rosen, Facebook’s vice-president of integrity, said on Twitter Wednesday that the video was removed because it “contributes to rather than diminishes the risk of ongoing violence.”

“This is an emergency situation and we are taking appropriate emergency measures, including removing President Trump’s video,” Rosen said on Twitter.

Trump has harnessed social media – especially Twitter – as a potent tool for spreading misinformation about the election. Wednesday’s riot only increased calls to ban Trump from the platform.

“The President has promoted sedition and incited violence,” Jonathan Greenblatt, chief executive officer of the Anti-Defamation League said in a statement. “More than anything, what is happening right now at the Capitol is a direct result of the fear and disinformation that has been spewed consistently from the Oval Office.”