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YouTube bans Trump for one week over concerns of 'ongoing potential for violence'

US president Donald Trump gestures to supporters at a rally in Iowa. Photo: Mike Segar/Reuters
US president Donald Trump gestures to supporters at a rally in Iowa. Photo: Mike Segar/Reuters

YouTube has banned US president Donald Trump for at least one week “in light of concerns about the ongoing potential for violence,” according to the tech platform, which is owned by Google’s parent company Alphabet (GOOGL).

“We will also be indefinitely disabling comments on president Trump’s channel, as we’ve done to other channels where there are safety concerns found in the comments section,” Youtube added in a Twitter message from its official account on Wednesday.

YouTube had also removed a video message posted by Trump last week, in which he was directly speaking to rioters. The Google-owned service has since introduced a new strike policy. Account holders whose videos violate its policies and receive 3 strikes in a 90-day period will be permanently removed from the platform.

Trump is accused of inciting the deadly riots on Capitol Hill last Wednesday (6 January) by telling his supporters to march to the US Capitol, continuing to repeat false claims that president-elect Joe Biden “stole” the November election.

YouTube’s latest move also comes on the heels of US campaign group Stop Hate For Profit threatening to organise a boycott of 1,000 advertisers if the tech giant didn’t take his account offline.

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YouTube’s decision follows similar ones taken by a number of tech companies in recent days:

  • Twitch: The day after the riot, the company disabled his account. “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,” a company spokesperson told Engadget.

  • Facebook (FB): On Monday, Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, said that Trump’s account will be suspended in the near term, at least until the inauguration and possibly longer. Sandberg told Reuters that the company has no plans to lift its block on Trump’s accounts and that she was “glad” that Facebook had taken the action.

  • Google and Apple (AAPL): Earlier this week, they removed Parler, an alternative social media network popular with conservatives, from their app stores. This followed concerns that the far-right leaning platform was spreading misinformation around the election.

American broadcasters have also increasingly limited live coverage of Trump’s speeches in the wake of last week’s attack, including CNN and Fox News, which chose not to take his speech in Alamo, Texas on Tuesday. As an alternative, they streamed the latest hearing in the investigation into the violence last week.

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