Donald Trump lashes out at ‘assault on free speech’ after POTUS banned from social media

Donald Trump says ‘free speech is under assault’

The President issued a video statement about last week’s insurrection at the US Capitol, carried out by his supporters. Posted on the White House Twitter account, Mr Trump called for an end to “mob violence”, but also skewered social media companies for trying to “censor” him and his followers.

Mr Trump said in the video social media companies had carried out an “unprecedented assault on free speech” in the wake of the Washington riots.

He added: “These are tense and difficult times. The efforts to censor, cancel and blacklist our fellow citizens are wrong and they are dangerous.

“What is needed now is for us to listen to one another. Not to silence one another.

“All of us can choose by our actions to rise above the rancour and find common ground and shared purpose.”

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Speaking to reporters a day earlier at the White House, Mr Trump also attacked social media companies for “censoring” him, calling it a “catastrophic mistake”.

He said: “They’re dividing and divisive and they’re showing something that I’ve been predicting for a long time.”

“I’ve been predicting it for a long time but people didn’t act on it and I think big tech has made a terrible mistake and very, very bad for our country and that’s leading others to do the same thing.

“And it causes a lot of problems and a lot of danger. Big mistake and they shouldn’t be doing it.”

Twitter, among other social media companies like Facebook, permanently suspended the President’s Twitter account following last week’s violence at the US Capitol.

In a statement, Twitter said they closed Mr Trump’s account “due to the risk of further incitement of violence”.

YouTube suspended Mr Trump’s channel for at least one week today “for violating our policies for inciting violence”.

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, added: “The shocking events of the last 24 hours clearly demonstrate that President Donald Trump intends to use his remaining time in office to undermine the peaceful and lawful transition of power to his elected successor, Joe Biden.”

Social media companies have been a frequent target of Mr Trump over the last year, with the President repeatedly claiming he was being “censored” by the platforms.

In May last year, Mr Trump issued an executive order to narrow legal protections for companies like Twitter and Facebook from content posted by users

The Centre for Democracy and Technology, funded by Facebook, Google and Twitter, launched a lawsuit against the order in June claiming it violates the First Amendment rights of social media companies.

Mr Trump also vetoed an annual $740 billion defence bill over complaints it did not contain changes to Section 230, which gives legal protections for social media companies against user content.

It comes after the President was impeached for a second time over the violence in the US Capitol last week.

Congress voted 232 to 197 to impeach Mr Trump on the charge of “incitement of insurrection”, with the vote now going to the Senate.

Speaking at a section of the US/Mexico border wall in Alamo, Texas yesterday, Mr Trump said: As the expression goes, be careful what you wish for.

“The impeachment hoax is a continuation of the greatest and most vicious witch hunt in the history of our country and is causing tremendous anger and division and pain far greater than most people will ever understand, which is very dangerous for the USA, especially at this very tender time.”

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