As rioters attacked the US Capitol on Wednesday, Facebook removed a video from President Donald Trump responding to the violence. The decision came around an hour after the video was posted on the platform.
“This is an emergency situation and we are taking appropriate emergency measures, including removing President Trump’s video,” said Guy Rosen, Facebook vice president of integrity, in a tweet Wednesday. “We removed it because on balance we believe it contributes to rather than diminishes the risk of ongoing violence.”
In Trump’s video, he responded to the mob violence descending on the US Capitol as lawmakers were set to certify the results of the 2020 presidential election. In the minute-long clip, Trump called on rioters to peacefully “go home” hours after the initial invasion began. He also made false claims that the most recent US election results were fraudulent.
“We had an election that was stolen from us,” Trump stated falsely in the video. “It was a landslide election and everyone knows it, especially the other side. But you have to go home now.”
Less than an hour later, Facebook also removed a text post from Trump, which sought to justify the attack, telling supporters to “remember this day forever!”
Facebook placed a handful of labels on Trump’s video before finally deciding to remove it altogether. These previous labels focused on debunking Trump’s claims that the 2020 presidential election was fraudulent. YouTube also removed the video, saying in a tweet, “Like other companies, we’re allowing these videos because discussion of election results & the process of counting votes is allowed on YT. These videos are not being surfaced or recommended in any prominent way.”
In a blog posted Wednesday evening, Facebook also said that it is searching for and removing content that includes:
Praise and support of the storming of the US Capitol
Calls to bring weapons to locations across the US — not just in Washington but anywhere in the US — including protests
Incitement or encouragement of the events at the Capitol, including videos and photos from the protestors. At this point they represent promotion of criminal activity which violates our policies.
Calls for protests — even peaceful ones — if they violate the curfew in DC
Attempts to restage violence tomorrow or in the coming days
The company says it is also implementing new emergency measures, including using AI to demote content that “likely violates our policies” and automatically shutting off comments on posts in groups that “start to have a high rate of hate speech or content that incites violence.”
CEO Mark Zuckerberg also reportedly sent a memo to employees, calling Wednesday’s events “a dark moment in our nation’s history.”
Twitter first restricted and then removed Trump’s video, citing a “risk of violence.”
Update January 6th, 7:26 PM ET: Added context from Facebook.