Following the January 6 riots on Capitol Hill, US President Donald Trump was blocked or banned by a number of platforms. When Facebook decided to lock Trump’s account, chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said that “the risks of allowing the president to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great.” The decision, although not unwarranted, was unprecedented. Other leaders who have contributed to the spread of disinformation or incited violence still have access to social media platforms. And Trump’s earlier posts — which also shared varying levels of harmful content — inspired little more than temporary content removal or warning labels.
We asked five experts two questions: Why did platforms take such a hard line this time? And does the widespread decision to deplatform Trump set a new precedent for content moderation? This article compiles their responses.