Facebook extends Trump ban indefinitely and Shopify shuts sites in wake of U.S. Capitol chaos

Major social media and e-commerce companies moved to further control outgoing U.S. President Donald Trump’s ability to post on their platforms Thursday after his followers stormed the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., a day earlier.

Social media services, including Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat, froze the president’s accounts temporarily on Wednesday after he repeated baseless claims about election interference.

Initial freezes on all platforms were for between 12 and 24 hours, but Facebook took the temporary ban one step further on Thursday, announcing his accounts will be frozen at least for the remainder of his term, and possibly longer.

“We believe the risks of allowing the president to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great,” Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post on Thursday.

“Therefore, we are extending the block we have placed on his Facebook and Instagram accounts indefinitely and for at least the next two weeks until the peaceful transition of power is complete.”

Thomas Rid, a Johns Hopkins cyberconflict scholar, tweeted “kudos and respect” to Zuckerberg and Facebook shortly after the announcement that Trump’s account would be locked for two weeks.

“Clearly the right move,” Rid said. “Consistent incitement to political violence is not acceptable. Twitter should do so as well.”

Trump’s initial 12-hour ban on Twitter has now expired, and he has yet to tweet anything as of 2 p.m. ET, but it’s unclear if that is his choice or the company’s.

A post from the official @TwitterSafety account said on Wednesday evening that the company could take further action as well.

“We’re continuing to evaluate the situation in real time, including examining activity on the ground and statements made off Twitter,” the post read. 

Shopify bans stores affiliated with Trump

Canadian e-commerce company Shopify runs the software that logs sales on the president’s official online store, along with numerous other websites associated with his campaign.

“Shopify does not tolerate actions that incite violence,” a spokesperson for the company told CBC News.

“Based on recent events, we have determined that the actions by President Donald J. Trump violate our Acceptable Use Policy, which prohibits promotion or support of organizations, platforms or people that threaten or condone violence to further a cause. As a result, we have terminated stores affiliated with President Trump.”

When visited on Thursday, both his hotel and branded goods business site trumpstore.com and campaign store shop.donaldjtrump.com generated messages saying “oops something went wrong” and “this store is unavailable.”

Shopify was roundly criticized last year for facilitating the sale of merchandise related to the QAnon movement, a baseless conspiracy theory built around the alleged existence of an unnamed high-level government insider who goes by the name Q and is trying to expose corruption and other crimes in the U.S. government.

Many extremists involved in Wednesday’s violence were holding signs indicating that they are believers in the QAnon movement and also supporters of Donald Trump.

In 2017, Shopify similarly came under fire for allowing the extremist news website Breitbart to use its services to sell merchandise.

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