Social media companies temporarily silence Trump's megaphone to 'protect' community

Twitter, Facebook and Twitch all froze President Trump's accounts on their platforms.
SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- In the wake of the violence at the Capitol Wednesday afternoon, social media companies announced new restrictions on President Donald Trump, signaling a turning point in how they've handled his posts on their platforms throughout his term in office.

Twitter, which is based in San Francisco, was the first to act Wednesday evening by citing the president for violations of the company's civic integrity policy. He was initially suspended from using his account for at least 12 hours, but granted posting privileges Thursday afternoon.

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Menlo Park-based Facebook announced earlier Thursday morning that the president's accounts would be locked through the end of his term. In a blog post, company CEO Mark Zuckerberg said his team took action after the president's recent posts were used to "incite violent insurrection against a democratically elected government."

Twitch, also based in San Francisco, disabled the president's channel on its platform Thursday morning and released a statement which read in part, "Given the current extraordinary circumstances and the President's incendiary rhetoric, we believe this is a necessary step to protect our community and prevent Twitch from being used to incite further violence."

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"It would be an incredibly wasted opportunity if we just went back to life as normal," said CNET Editor-At-Large Ian Sherr, who added that the chaos at the capitol was a wakeup call for an industry that has gone unchecked for years.

"We need to figure out what social media needs to become, and it can't just be the whims of two male, white CEOs, who are currently in charge of Facebook and Twitter," he said.

RELATED: Zuckerberg extends Trump's Facebook, Instagram lockout indefinitely

In recent months, much has been said about the protections these companies have under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which shields them from liability for much of the content their users post on their platforms. With no restrictions, some say the consequences can be dangerous.

"That culture of anonymity has encouraged more and more inflammatory rhetoric," said SJSU mass communications expert Richard Craig, who stressed that social media companies don't have the bandwidth to monitor their online communities. "The more you get into it, the more you get accustomed to just the outrageousness of it all, and the more you can get caught up in the mania that we saw yesterday."
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