Twitter banned an account used by former top Trump adviser Steve Bannon after he called for the beheading of Dr. Anthony Fauci and FBI Director Christopher Wray on his podcast Thursday.
A Twitter spokesperson confirmed to CBS News that, “The @WarRoomPandemic account has been permanently suspended for violating the Twitter Rules, specifically our policy on the glorification of violence.”
A Twitter source added, “We have policies in place that address clear threats of violence, abuse and harassment, and hateful conduct. If we identify any accounts or content that violate these rules, we’ll take enforcement action.”
As of Thursday evening, Bannon’s account was still active on Facebook, where the video calling for Fauci and Wray to be executed had been viewed nearly 200,000 times in ten hours. Late Thursday, Facebook said it had removed videos of Bannon’s remarks for violating its policy on violence and incitement.
On the Bannon podcast, the right-wing provocateur said a second Trump term “kicks off with firing Wray, firing Fauci.
“Now I actually want to go a step farther but I realize the president is a kind-hearted man and a good man. I’d actually like to go back to the old times of Tudor England. I’d put the heads on pikes, right. I’d put them at the two corners of the White House as a warning to federal bureaucrats: ‘You either get with the program or you’re gone — time to stop playing games.’ Blow it all up, put (Trump campaign adviser, former acting Director of National Intelligence and ex-U.S. Ambassador to Germany) Ric Grenell today as the interim head of the FBI. That’ll light them up, right.”
Co-host Jack Maxey said, “You know what Steve? Just yesterday there was the anniversary of the hanging of two Tories in Philadelphia. These were Quaker businessmen who had cohabitated, if you will, with the British while they were occupying Philadelphia. These people were hung. This is what we used to do to traitors.”
Bannon replied, “That’s how you won the revolution. No one wants to talk about it. The revolution wasn’t some sort of garden party, right? It was a civil war. It was a civil war.”
Facebook bars “Stop the Steal”
Separately, Facebook on Thursday banned a large group called “Stop the Steal” that supporters of President Trump were using to organize protests against the presidential vote count. Some members had called for violence, and many falsely claimed Democrats are “stealing” the election from Republicans.
As for Though the group amassed more than 350,000 members before Facebook took it down, it was just one of several smaller groups that popped up as vote counting extended for days in several battleground states. Inside the groups, members and organizers tried to ensure they would get around Facebook’s moderators and “trolls” who might report or mock them.
“In line with the exceptional measures that we are taking during this period of heightened tension, we have removed the Group ‘Stop the Steal,’ which was creating real-world events,” Facebook said in a statement. “The group was organized around the delegitimization of the election process, and we saw worrying calls for violence from some members of the group.”
Facebook said it will continue to watch for activity that violates its rules and will take action if it does. As of Thursday afternoon, a copycat “Stop the Steal” group was growing steadily, nearing 13,000 members, and others were easily searchable on Facebook.
Inside the groups, members posted baseless claims of voter fraud and organized protests. Calls for violence weren’t immediately apparent, although the Center for Countering Digital Hate shared a screenshot of one post in the now-banned group that read “Neither side is going to concede. Time to clean the guns, time to hit the streets.”
In the new group, administrators – who create and moderate groups on Facebook, cautioned people to keep posts civil and vent frustrations without making threats. They scrupulously warned members that they will remove anything that calls for violence, and said they were making plans to move the group to other, less-moderated platforms.
Imran Ahmed, CEO of the Center for Countering Digital Hate, which pressured Facebook to take down the group, said while it’s true that all this seems like a game of whack-a-mole, the moles are slowly learning their lesson.
“By taking out the largest one, it sent a message to others,” he said.
But Ahmed said it shouldn’t be so difficult to get Facebook to take action on such a large group calling for violence.
“There is a systemic issue with Facebook groups being exploited by people spreading misinformation, hate and inciting violence,” he said. “It’s a problem they have known about for a long time and they continue to fail to take proper action. It’s generally only when a lot of attention is placed on something that they act.”
By Thursday afternoon, Facebook banned the #stopthesteal hashtag, too. But it easily could have done so earlier. The term and similar ones were mentioned nearly 120,000 times on websites and social media platforms throughout the day Tuesday, according to analysis from media intelligence firm Zignal Labs.
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