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Foxnews/ 'Hang Mike Pence' trends on Twitter after platform suspends Trump for risk of 'incitement of violence'
Vox/ Twitter purged thousands of QAnon-spreading accounts, including some of the conspiracy’s most prominent backers
Wednesday's assault on the US Capitol by President Donald Trump's supporters has created a crisis moment for the tech companies that have given him a free platform to incite violence and spread debunked claims of election fraud to his fervent supporters.
After hours of silence while their sites were swarmed with images of rioters breaking Capitol windows and threatening law enforcement, tech platforms including Facebook (FB), Twitter (TWTR)and YouTube were forced to take increasingly aggressive steps to limit Trump's online accounts.
First the platforms tried labeling Trump's posts, including his claim that Vice President Mike Pence lacked the "courage" to do what was necessary to ensure Trump remains in the Oval Office. Twitter moved to restrict replies, likes and retweets of that tweet.
Twitter saw a surprising item trending on Friday night when "Hang Mike Pence" hit around 14,000 tweets, according to reports.
The social media platform announced Friday night that it was permanently suspending President Donald Trump’s Twitter account.
The decision was made "due to the risk of further incitement of violence," according to a statement on the company’s blog.
Many users were confused, then, to see such a violent item in the trending section.
Twitter took sweeping action against the accounts of prominent backers of the QAnon conspiracy theory Friday night, permanently suspending former Trump administration National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, former Trump attorney Sidney Powell, and former 8kun administrator Ron Watkins, along with several other Q-associated accounts, from the platform, according to NBC News.
The social media company explained to NBC that the accounts fell under the company’s “coordinated harmful activity” ban, citing concerns about online incitement leading to violence.
The suspensions came as Twitter also purged thousands of QAnon accounts after followers of the conspiracy theory featured prominently in Wednesday’s violent raid on the US Capitol.
Twitter also permanently suspended President Donald Trump’s account, citing the risk of further incitement of violence; it said he seemingly encouraged violence by declaring he would not attend President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20.
The company then played a game of virtual whack-a-mole by banning several accounts that Trump appeared to take over, apparently in an attempt to evade his ban. Among the accounts Trump tried to access were @TeamTrump and the account of campaign staffer Gary Coby.
Twitter had long hesitated to ban the president, despite repeated violations of the company’s terms of service, simply because Trump was president and his tweets were considered newsworthy. But given his role in encouraging Wednesday’s storming of the US Capitol that left at least five dead, including Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, the company finally took action.
Twitter has banned President Donald Trump’s official campaign account and the campaign’s Digital Director, Gary Coby. The platform permanently banned Trump earlier on Friday evening.
Twitter’s suspension of accounts essentially censors the historical record by removing all the accounts’ tweets from being publicly accessed.
The Trump campaign’s Twitter profile published a statement from Trump on Friday in which the president said he would build his own social media platform. Twitter immediately banned the profile.
Coby changed his account’s profile picture to one of Trump and its screen name to Donald J. Trump.