Social media companies taking action after Capitol riot

Why people may fall for this Facebook Messenger scam
Posted at 5:20 PM, Jan 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-11 20:44:57-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — On Monday, Facebook announced it is now removing content that mentions the phrase "stop the steal."

The social media company cited its “coordinating harm” policy with the company saying, "We removed the original Stop the Steal group in November and have continued to remove Pages, groups and events that violate any of our policies, including calls for violence."

The announcement comes less than a week after the company blocked President Donald Trump's Facebook account.

Mark Zuckerberg posted a statement saying in part, "We believe the risks of allowing the President to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great. 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."

Twitter also suspended the President's account following the riot at the United States Capitol.

The company saying, "After close review of recent Tweets from the @realDonaldTrump account and the context around them — specifically how they are being received and interpreted on and off Twitter — we have permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence."

The removal of the President's accounts is being referred to by some as censorship. Others on social media are questioning whether the tech companies' decisions violate the First Amendment.

"Anybody claiming that the First Amendment is being violated is overreading the reach of the constitution," said Glenn Smith, Constitutional Law Professor at California Western School of Law.

Smith said, technically speaking, the First Amendment bars government agencies from violating people's freedom of speech.

"So, the First Amendment is not applicable to social media companies or private companies," Smith said.

That's legally speaking. As far as the tech industries’ reach, that's complicated.

"For months, President Trump has been using social media platforms to seed doubt about the results of the election and to undermine the will of the voters," said ACLU Senior Legislative Counsel Kate Ruane. "We understand the desire to permanently suspend him now, but it should concern everyone when companies like Facebook and Twitter wield the unchecked power to remove people from platforms that have become indispensable for the speech of billions — especially when political realities make those decisions easier. President Trump can turn to his press team or Fox News to communicate with the public, but others — like the many Black, Brown, and LGBTQ activists who have been censored by social media companies — will not have that luxury. It is our hope that these companies will apply their rules transparently to everyone."