WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump attacked social media websites after a number of conservatives and extremist figures were banned from platforms, saying that he was monitoring the situation.
Trump spent parts of Friday and Saturday criticizing Twitter and Facebook, declaring, "I am continuing to monitor the censorship of AMERICAN CITIZENS on social media platforms," he wrote on Twitter. Trump has repeatedly asserted that social media companies exhibit bias against conservatives, something the companies have rejected as untrue.
"It’s getting worse and worse for Conservatives on social media!" Trump wrote, following in another tweet, "This is the United States of America — and we have what’s known as FREEDOM OF SPEECH! We are monitoring and watching, closely!!
The president’s comments came after Facebook this week banned Louis Farrakhan, Alex Jones and other extremists, saying they violated its ban on “dangerous individuals.” The company also removed right-wing personalities Paul Nehlen, Milo Yiannopoulos, Paul Joseph Watson and Laura Loomer, along with Jones’ site, Infowars, which often posts false conspiracy theories. The latest bans apply both to Facebook’s main service and to Instagram and extend to fan pages and other related accounts.
Facebook’s move signaled a renewed effort by the social media giant to remove people and groups promoting objectionable material such as hate, racism and anti-Semitism. The company said it has “always banned” people or groups that proclaim a violent or hateful mission or are engaged in acts of hate or violence, regardless of political ideology.
Trump also took issue with Twitter banning actor and prominent conservative James Woods, saying he was "surprised" to see it.
"How can it be possible that James Woods (and many others), a strong but responsible Conservative Voice, is banned from Twitter?" Trump wrote on Twitter Saturday afternoon. "Social Media & Fake News Media, together with their partner, the Democrat Party, have no idea the problems they are causing for themselves. VERY UNFAIR!"
Woods' Twitter account was not taken down but locked due to one tweet that violated Twitter's rules. Twitter spokeswoman Katie Rosborough said Woods will need to delete the tweet that violated its rules before he can be reinstated. Rosborough said Twitter enforces its rules “impartially for all users, regardless of their background or political affiliation.”
Trump, who has used Twitter for years to communicate directly with his supporters, has continued to attack social media websites as discriminating against conservatives, something other Republicans have echoed. Trump has called for Congress to "get involved" in looking into those allegations.
Last month, Trump met with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey in the Oval Office. According to Twitter, Dorsey "had a constructive meeting" with Trump where the pair "discussed Twitter’s commitment to protecting the health of the public conversation ahead of the 2020 U.S. elections and efforts under way to respond to the opioid crisis."
Contributing: Associated Press; David Jackson
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump attacks social media sites after James Woods, Alex Jones other extremist conservatives banned