Twitter and Facebook have temporarily locked the accounts of US President Donald Trump, as tech giants scrambled to crack down on his baseless claims about the presidential election amid riots in the capital that have left four people dead.
Twitter hid and mandated the removal of three of Trump's tweets "as a result of the unprecedented and ongoing violent situation" after pro-Trump protesters stormed the US Capitol on Wednesday in an attempt to force Congress to block the appointment of President-elect Joe Biden.
Four people died on Capitol grounds in the chaos, including a woman who was shot and killed inside the building.
Trump said in a tweet, later taken down by Twitter, that the storming of the building was a natural response. He also blamed Vice President Mike Pence for lacking "courage" to pursue claims of election fraud.
Twitter locked Trump's account for 12 hours and said that if the tweets are not deleted, the account will remain locked.
Facebook and YouTube likewise removed removed a video in which Trump continued to allege the presidential election was fraudulent even as he urged protesters to go home.
Facebook later said it would block Trump's page from posting for 24 hours, with vice president of integrity Guy Rosen tweeting the video "contributes to rather than diminishes the risk of ongoing violence".
The video was removed from Instagram and the president's account there would also be locked for 24 hours, Adam Mosseri, chief of Facebook-owned Instagram, said in a tweet.
A White House spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.
Violent rhetoric and advice on weaponry had ramped up significantly in the past three weeks on social media platforms as groups planned for the rallies, according to researchers and public postings.
Movement leaders frequently pointed to Trump's words in their calls to action, including the president's exhortation that the events in Washington on January 6 would be "wild".
Comments during the occupation of the Capitol on TheDonald.win, a web site of Trump enthusiasts, included "WE WANT BLOOD" and "murder Pelosi", referring to the US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, according to research firm Advance Democracy Inc.
Some Facebook staffers joined calls for Trump's accounts to be shut down and demanded transparency from executives about how they were handling the situation, according to internal posts seen by Reuters.
"Can we get some courage and actual action from leadership in response to this behavior? Your silence is disappointing at the least and criminal at worst," one employee wrote.
Internal communications managers quickly closed comments on the threads.
Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the internal posts.
Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg later wrote in an internal post confirmed by the company that he was "personally saddened by this mob violence".
He said Facebook was treating the situation as an emergency and "implementing additional measures to keep people safe", without elaborating.
Australian Associated Press