YouTube suspends Trump’s account, barring uploads and comments

U.S. President Donald Trump boards Air Force One at Valley International Airport after visiting the U.S.-Mexico border wall, in Harlingen, Texas, January 12, 2021.

Carlos Barria | Reuters

Google has suspended President Donald Trump’s account and issued the White House a warning on YouTube, which is the world’s largest video platform.

The Google-owned company said Tuesday night that Trump uploaded content that violated its policies, giving it an automatic one-strike, which leads to a minimum seven-day suspension from uploading new content. It said it is also disabling the comments section.

The company did not specify which videos violated its policies but said that it was “content” that included comments Trump made at a press conference Tuesday morning. YouTube said it violated policies that prohibit content for inciting violence.

Donald J. Trump’s YouTube account has 2.77 million subscribers and it typically posts several videos a day from himself and from right-wing media stations.

Under YouTube’s three-strike system, a channel will be suspended for one week after the first strike, two after the second and terminated after a third strike within 90 days. The temporary suspension means Trump’s account and existing videos will remain accessible but he won’t be able to upload new content.

“After review, and in light of concerns about the ongoing potential for violence, we removed new content uploaded to Donald J. Trump’s channel for violating our policies,” the company said in a statement on social media Wednesday evening. “Given the ongoing concerns about violence, 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.”

A company spokesperson said it also removed videos from the White House’s YouTube account but that, instead of a first strike, the company issued a warning because “There has not been the same history of violative content on this channel, but should further violative content get uploaded to the channel, it would receive a strike, per our policies.”

Google-owned YouTube on Thursday announced that it would suspend — a first strike — any channels posting new videos of false widespread voter fraud claims, rather than giving them a warning first. Later Thursday, Alphabet employees called on YouTube executives to take further action against the president, criticizing them for not suspending his account and reasoning he would incite further misinformation and violence.

YouTube’s suspension of Trump’s account comes after the violence at the U.S. Capitol by some Trump supporters on Wednesday, which left five dead. Politicians and the public have called for social media and technology companies to more closely moderate their platforms, which are at risk of inciting further violence.  

Both Twitter and Facebook announced they were suspending Trump’s account on their respective platforms — Twitter, permanently. However, Trump found a workaround and began tweeting from the government-owned @POTUS account late Friday before it was eventually removed too.

Google also removed Parler, a social media app popular with Trump supporters, from the Google Play Store Friday, making it much harder for Android users to download and access the app.

YouTube is unique from other social networks because videos can be shared on other platforms, giving it a wide-ranging reach.





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