Misinformation Watch

By Donie O'Sullivan, Kaya Yurieff, Kelly Bourdet, the CNN Business team and contributors from across CNN

Updated 11:21 a.m. ET, January 26, 2021
159 Posts
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2:37 p.m. ET, January 7, 2021

Shopify removes Trump campaign and Trump Organization sites

From CNN Business' Nathaniel Meyersohn 

E-commerce platform Shopify said on Thursday that it had shut down stores on its website affiliated with President Trump, including shops run by the Trump campaign and the Trump Organization.

A Shopify spokesperson said in an email that “based on recent events,” Trump's "actions" violated the company’s policy prohibiting the promotion or support of "organizations, platforms or people that threaten or condone violence to further a cause.” 

Visitors to Trumpstore.com and shop.donaldjtrump.com Thursday were met with a message that said the shops were unavailable. Shopify did not say how many sites tied to Trump it had shut down in total.

Major social media platforms have taken their harshest steps to date to restrict the president's use of their sites after a mob of pro-Trump supporters overran the Capitol building Wednesday. 

Twitter and Facebook locked Trump's accounts on their platforms Wednesday, and Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said on Thursday that the ban on Trump posting to his account would last for at least two weeks, through the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.

2:32 p.m. ET, January 7, 2021

YouTube accelerates enforcement of voter fraud claims, in move that could lead to permanent Trump ban

From CNN Business' Brian Fung

YouTube announced Thursday that it is accelerating its timeline for penalizing channels that promote false claims of voter fraud surrounding the 2020 election, a move that could lead to President Donald Trump’s permanent suspension from the platform if he continues to spread baseless claims that the election was stolen. 

Last month, YouTube said it would begin removing content that made false claims of election fraud, but that it would not begin assigning strikes to channels under its three-strike rule until after Inauguration Day. This “grace period” is standard policy, YouTube told CNN. 

Now, however, the video platform will begin imposing strikes right away instead of waiting until after Jan. 20, shortening the grace period by two weeks.

“Due to the disturbing events that transpired yesterday, and given that the election results have been certified, any channel posting new videos with these false claims in violation of our policies will now receive a strike, a penalty which temporarily restricts uploading or live-streaming,” said Alex Joseph, a YouTube spokesperson. “Channels that receive three strikes in the same 90-day period will be permanently removed from YouTube.”

The decision in light of Wednesday’s violent Capitol riots follows moves by Twitter and Facebook to limit Trump’s account, and a decision by Facebook to ban Trump from its platform for at least the remainder of his term. 

2:29 p.m. ET, January 7, 2021

Facebook bans Trump from posting for remainder of his term in office

From CNN Business' Brian Fung

Facebook will ban President Donald Trump's account from posting for at least the remainder of his term in office and perhaps "indefinitely," CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a blog post on Thursday.

"We believe the risks of allowing the President to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great," Zuckerberg wrote in the post. "Therefore, we are extending the block we have placed on his Facebook and Instagram accounts indefinitely and for at least the next two weeks until the peaceful transition of power is complete."

The decision marks a major escalation by Facebook as it and other platforms have come under intense pressure from advocacy groups and prominent figures to ban Trump following his inflammatory rhetoric encouraging insurrection.

Facebook and Twitter took the extraordinary step on Wednesday of temporarily locking President Donald Trump's account on their platforms after his supporters stormed the Capitol building to protest the election.

If the latest restrictions hold, Facebook could be the first major platform to remove Trump permanently.

Read more here.

2:30 p.m. ET, January 7, 2021

Twitter confirms Trump has deleted the required tweets to unlock his account

From CNN Business' Brian Fung

President Donald Trump has removed the three tweets from his profile that prompted a temporary lock of his account on Wednesday, a Twitter spokesperson told CNN Business. The move clears the way for Trump to regain control of his tweeting privileges as early as Thursday. 

The official confirmation comes after Trump appeared to comply Wednesday evening with Twitter’s requirement that he delete the tweets or face a continued lock on his account. 

Earlier on Wednesday, Twitter said Trump’s account would be placed in a temporary time out for policy violations, lasting for 12 hours from the moment he deleted the tweets. Twitter also threatened Trump with a permanent ban from the platform for further violations. No sitting president has ever been banned from Twitter.

Asked what time Trump will be able to tweet again, Twitter declined to comment.

Twitter and Facebook both took the extraordinary step on Wednesday of locking Trump's account on their platforms after his supporters stormed the Capitol building to protest the election.

2:31 p.m. ET, January 7, 2021

Trump appears to delete tweets that had him suspended from Twitter

From CNN Business' Brian Fung

Donald Trump appears to have deleted three tweets that violated Twitter's policies, a move that means the President could be tweeting again by mid-morning Eastern time on Thursday, if not sooner.

Twitter had announced Wednesday evening that it would lock Trump’s account for a period of 12 hours that would begin once he had deleted three tweets that violated the company’s policies. Twitter had hidden the tweets from view behind a public notice saying, “This tweet is no longer available." However, it had not actually deleted the tweets from Trump’s profile, Twitter told CNN.

It is Twitter’s standard procedure to require that locked account owners voluntarily delete violative tweets as a condition of returning to normal service.

When a locked account owner deletes violative tweets, Twitter said, the platform updates the attached notices to read: “This tweet is no longer available because it violated the Twitter Rules.”

That is the notice that now sits in place of Trump’s violative tweets, indicating that Trump’s account has complied with Twitter’s requirement.

Asked by CNN, Twitter declined to say when the Trump tweets were deleted or what time Trump will be allowed to tweet again.

Twitter’s initial statement about the lock and the requirement that Trump delete his tweets was met with some initial confusion as the company’s announcement came after the tweets had already vanished from public view.

Twitter’s clarification that it simply masked Trump’s tweets without formally removing them explains why it said Trump must delete the tweets in order to continue tweeting.

7:49 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

Facebook says it is 'searching for and removing' posts supporting the Capitol riots

From CNN Business' Brian Fung

Facebook said Wednesday evening it is “searching for and removing” content from its platform that praises or supports the Capitol riots, in an expanded statement following its decision to remove President Trump’s video addressed to supporters. 

The social media giant also said it will remove calls for armed gatherings as well as incitement and encouragement of further protests and violence in Washington. 

Company executives said in a blog post that the labels Facebook applies to false claims of election fraud will now state more clearly that Joe Biden won the election. 

The blog post said: “The new text reads that the results are final and certified: Joe Biden has been elected President with results that were certified by all 50 states. The US has laws, procedures, and established institutions to ensure the peaceful transfer of power after an election.’”

6:27 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

Before rioters stormed the US Capitol, Trump supporters called for violence online

From CNN Business' Kaya Yurieff

While many Americans were stunned as they watched rioters descend on the Capitol and clash with police, there has been chatter for days on various social media platforms about the prospect of Wednesday's protests turning violent.

Ahead of protests organized to contest the formal counting of electoral votes in Washington DC, calls for violence could be found in discussions on Twitter, TikTok, right-wing platform Parler and an online forum formed last year in support of Donald Trump, according to research from nonpartisan nonprofit Advance Democracy.

On Wednesday afternoon, a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol, pushing through barriers set up around the building and tussling with officers in full riot gear. One woman was shot. Windows were broken. At least one Trump supporter was pictured standing at the Senate dais, while another breached House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office. A Capitol police officer in the House chamber told lawmakers that they may need to duck under their chairs.

Before the protest, several TikTok videos promoting violence racked up thousands of views, with one user advocating for protestors to take their "mother-[expletive] guns" to DC, according to Advance Democracy. One TikTok video containing violent rhetoric had nearly 280,000 views. On Twitter, there were more than 1,250 posts from accounts related to the QAnon conspiracy theory about Wednesday's protests containing terms of violence since January 1.

Read more here

6:00 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

Facebook removes Trump's video addressing supporters storming Capitol building

From CNN Business' Brian Fung

Facebook has now removed President Donald Trump’s video from earlier this afternoon addressing his supporters in the wake of riots at the US Capitol, company spokesman Andy Stone told CNN Business. 

In the video, Trump had urged Capitol rioters to “go home” but struck a sympathetic tone and reiterated his debunked claims of election fraud.

"This is an emergency situation and we are taking appropriate emergency measures, including removing President Trump's video," Guy Rosen, Facebook’s VP of integrity, said in a tweet. "We removed it because on balance we believe it contributes to rather than diminishes the risk of ongoing violence."

Facebook, Twitter and other tech platforms faced growing calls Wednesday afternoon to take action on President Donald Trump's social media accounts for his role in instigating riots at the Capitol.

6:01 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

Twitter restricts engagement with Trump's labeled tweets amid riots at the US Capitol

From CNN Business' Brian Fung

On Wednesday afternoon, Twitter moved to restrict engagement with tweets by President Donald Trump and others that have been labeled “due to a risk of violence.”

The announcement comes after hours of silence from the president as violent rioters descended on the US Capitol, and amid mounting calls by the Anti-Defamation League and others for Trump’s Twitter account to be suspended outright. 

Twitter did not directly address those calls, but said that the restrictions on sharing and engagement are part of its efforts to monitor the “ongoing situation in Washington."

Likes and replies have been disabled on Trump’s tweet that claimed Vice President Mike Pence “didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done.” Retweets of the tweet have been restricted, prompting users to add a comment rather than simply amplifying Trump’s remarks.

Those same restrictions were also applied to a video Trump shared of himself late Wednesday afternoon addressing the rioters.

“In regard to the ongoing situation in Washington, D.C., we are working proactively to protect the health of the public conversation occurring on the service and will take action on any content that violates the Twitter Rules,” Twitter said. 

Read more here.