Foreign Policy

YouTube blocks Trump’s channel for at least seven days

OAKLAND, Calif. – YouTube announced Tuesday that President Trump’s channel had been banned because of concerns about the “ongoing potential for violence.” This was the latest move by one of the major tech companies to restrict the president online.

In a post on YouTube’s official Twitter account, Google’s own video page announced that Mr Trump’s account was banned after one of his recent videos violated the Incitement to Violence Policy.

That meant Mr Trump couldn’t upload any new content to his channel for at least seven days, which had around 2.8 million subscribers. YouTube also said it has indefinitely disabled all comments on its channel.

Older videos that did not violate any guidelines remained active on his channel.

Many tech companies have moved to curb Mr. Trump online since a violent presidential-instigated crowd of his supporters stormed the Capitol last week. Subsequently, Facebook suspended the president from Instagram and his core social network at least until the end of his term in office. Twitter followed by the permanent suspension of Mr. Trump’s account to deprive him of his favorite social media platform, which he had more than 88 million followers on. Other sites, like Snapchat, Reddit, and Twitch, have put Mr. Trump under pressure.

Big tech companies have also withdrawn support for other websites that host right-wing content. On Monday, Parler, a social networking site that had become popular with Trump supporters for its casual approach to freedom of expression, went dark after Amazon shut down computer services. Apple and Google had previously removed Parler from their app stores. Parler said they were looking for a way to get back online.

The moves were praised by liberals and others, who said the actions were long overdue because Mr Trump used the websites to spread falsehoods and incite violence. But conservatives have said that tech companies have censored Mr Trump and suppressed right-wing voices, raising questions about how much power tech companies have over online discourse.

The video that led to YouTube’s suspension comes from Mr. Trump’s remarks on Wednesday prior to a trip to Texas to visit a partially completed section of his long-promised wall along the Mexican border.

In his first address to reporters since last week’s events, Trump said that a speech he gave at a pre-riot rally in the Capitol was “entirely appropriate” and that Congress’s efforts to indict and condemn him “Anger would have enormous causes.”

YouTube’s seven-day suspension was an “important and necessary first step,” said Jim Steyer, executive director of Common Sense Media, a nonprofit news media monitoring group. “While it is disappointing that it took a Trump-instigated attack on our Capitol to get here, all major platforms seem to be finally rising,” he said.

During his presidency, Mr. Trump used YouTube differently from Twitter or Facebook. His YouTube channel is mostly filled with clips from speeches and rallies, as well as videos of supporters defending him on Fox News. The videos lack the carbon copy of his up-to-the-minute comment on Twitter and Facebook.

YouTube’s suspension comes after months of being pulled by the company. In the weeks following the November 3 election, Mr Trump’s channel was filled with videos showing him and his supporters questioning the outcome. YouTube refused to respond to these videos despite critics calling for it. The questioning of the election results is not a violation of his guidelines.

Last month, after most states confirmed their election results, YouTube announced it would remove videos that misleadingly stated that there had been widespread election fraud or election errors. However, the company said it would not punish channels for posting such content with suspensions until January 21, after inauguration day. YouTube said it removed thousands of videos spreading misinformation about the 2020 election.

Several videos were removed from Mr. Trump’s channel last week, including the one praising rioters and urging them to leave the Capitol. The Company, cited the spread of electoral misinformation.

A day later, YouTube removed the grace period and said it would “strike” channels for violating policies on election fraud. Channels that receive a strike will not be able to upload new videos for a week. After three strokes there can be a canal permanently banned from YouTube.

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