Michelle Obama calls on social media companies to permanently ban Trump

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Former first lady Michelle Obama called on social media companies to permanently ban Donald Trump from their platforms in the wake of Wednesday’s attack on the U.S. Capitol by the president’s supporters.

“Now is the time for Silicon Valley companies to stop enabling this monstrous behavior — and go even further than they have already by permanently banning this man from their platforms and putting in place policies to prevent their technology from being used by the nation’s leaders to fuel insurrection,” Obama wrote in her statement.

In response to the riot by thousands of Trump supporters which police said resulted in the deaths of four people, Facebook announced Thursday that it was banning Trump until at least Jan. 20, the end of his presidential term. Twitter has not yet banned Trump, but over the past few months began adding warning labels to his tweets. On Wednesday, as violence raged in Washington, the site removed a handful of tweets posted by the president and blocked him from posting for 12 hours. His last post, at 6:01 p.m. on Wednesday, was a defense of the rioters, which read: “These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long. Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!” Twitter has taken it down.

YouTube, which is owned by Google, removed a video Trump had posted Wednesday in which he praised the rioters and continued to make false claims about the 2020 election.

Trump has often bragged that he uses social media to bypass what he calls the “fake news media,” so as to spread his message directly to his supporters. On Twitter, his favorite platform, Trump boasts 88.7 million followers, which makes him the sixth-most-followed user. Former President Barack Obama is first, with 128 million; the other top five, in order, are Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, Rihanna and soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo.

When the platform began adding warning labels to Trump’s tweets, angry conservatives began migrating to Parler, another social media site less likely to flag inaccurate posts by users.

Michelle Obama
Former first lady Michelle Obama. (Handout/DNCC via Getty Images)

In her statement, Obama also described her horror at watching the mob descend on the Capitol.

“Like all of you, I watched as a gang — organized, violent, and mad they’d lost an election — laid siege to the United States Capitol. They set up gallows. They proudly waved the traitorous flag of the Confederacy through the halls,” Obama said. “They desecrated the center of American government. And once authorities finally gained control of the situation, these rioters and gang members were led out of the building not in handcuffs, but free to carry on with their days."

In speeches earlier on Thursday, President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris both decried the disparity in the way the pro-Trump mob and Black Lives Matter protesters had been treated in the nation’s capital.

Mrs. Obama, who has been outspoken about her disdain for Trump, said that along with the president, far-right-wing media outlets also bore responsibility for what had transpired on Wednesday.

“The day was a fulfillment of the wishes of an infantile and unpatriotic president who can’t handle the truth of his own failures. And the wreckage lays at the feet of a party and media apparatus that gleefully cheered him on, knowing full well the possibility of consequences like these,” Obama said.


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