Our Response to the Violence in Washington

By Guy Rosen, VP, Integrity, and Monika Bickert, VP, Global Policy Management

Update on January 7, 2021 at 8:05AM PT:

We believe the risks of allowing President Trump to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great, so we are extending the block we have placed on his Facebook and Instagram accounts indefinitely and for at least the next two weeks.

Update on January 6, 2021 at 6:28PM PT:

Originally published on January 6, 2021 at 4:00PM PT:

Let us speak for the leadership team in saying what so many of us are feeling. We are appalled by the violence at the Capitol today. We are treating these events as an emergency. Our Elections Operations Center has already been active in anticipation of the Georgia elections and the vote by Congress to certify the election, and we are monitoring activity on our platform in real time. For those of you who are wondering, here are the actions we’re taking:

First, we have been searching for and removing the following content:

  • Praise and support of the storming of the US Capitol
  • Calls to bring weapons to locations across the US — not just in Washington but anywhere in the US — including protests 
  • Incitement or encouragement of the events at the Capitol, including videos and photos from the protestors. At this point they represent promotion of criminal activity which violates our policies.
  • Calls for protests — even peaceful ones — if they violate the curfew in DC 
  • Attempts to restage violence tomorrow or in the coming days

As a part of this, we removed from Facebook and Instagram the recent video of President Trump speaking about the protests and his subsequent post about the election results. We made the decision that on balance these posts contribute to, rather than diminish, the risk of ongoing violence.

Next, we’re updating our label on posts across our platforms that attempt to delegitimize the election results. The new text reads: Joe Biden has been elected President with results that were certified by all 50 states. The US has laws, procedures, and established institutions to ensure the peaceful transfer of power after an election.”

In recent days and weeks, we have also taken enforcement action consistent with our policy banning militarized social movements like the Oathkeepers and the violence-inducing conspiracy theory QAnon. We’ve also continued to enforce our ban on hate groups including the Proud Boys and many others. We’ve already removed over 600 militarized social movements from our platform. 

We’ve had emergency measures in place since before the US elections like not recommending civic groups for people to join. We’re keeping them in place. Today we’re implementing several additional ones as well, including:

  • Increasing the requirement of Group admins to review and approve posts before they can go up
  • Automatically disabling comments on posts in Groups that start to have a high rate of hate speech or content that incites violence, and 
  • Using AI to demote content that likely violates our policies

We’re continuing to monitor the situation and will take additional measures if necessary to keep people safe. 

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