A mob of people stormed the US Capitol Building on Wednesday as weeks of President Donald Trump’s unfounded claims the 2020 election was stolen boiled over into a display of insurrection as the Congress was assembled to affirm the results. Shots were fired inside the building, according to multiple reports.
Trump, who had spoken to a rally of supporters nearby, stirred up protestors, telling them “We will never give up.” The president also used Twitter to attack Vice President Mike Pence, who had earlier issued a statement saying that he couldn’t stop the Congressional count of electoral votes, which is mandated by the constitution.
“Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution,” Trump tweeted in a statement that falsely claimed fraudulent votes were certified by the states. “USA demands the truth!,” he continued. Twitter quickly labeled the tweet as disputed. It also updated the label, noting that it can’t be replied to, retweeted or liked “due to a risk of violence.” Facebook, which exempts politicians from fact checking, added a label directing users to its election information center.
Trump, who lost the US presidential election to former Vice President Joe Biden, has been using Twitter and Facebook to push baseless claims about election fraud to his millions of followers. While the companies have labeled several of Trump’s tweets and posts, critics say those efforts do little to stop the spread of misinformation.
On Wednesday, the social networks faced more calls to suspend Trump’s account and take stronger action against posts that incite violence. University of Virginia law professor Danielle Citron, journalist Kara Swisher, the Obama Foundation CTO Leslie Miley and others posted tweets urging Twitter to boot Trump from the social media site. “Time is now to suspend Trump’s account. He has deliberately incited violence, causing mayhem with his lies and threats,” Citron tweeted.
Twitter said in a statement it will take action against tweets that violate its rules. “Let us be clear: Threats of and calls to violence have no place on Twitter, and we will enforce our policies accordingly,” the company said.
Facebook, which also has rules against inciting violence, also faced criticism for allowing Trump and his supporters to push false claims of voter fraud on its site. Christopher Wylie, the whistleblower in Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal, tweeted the violence that broke out at the US Capitol was an “inevitable manifestation of the conspiracy, vitriol and hate fed to people daily on Facebook.”
Facebook didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
The mayor of Washington, DC, ordered a 6 p.m. ET curfew as the events unspooled on television. CNN reported a woman was being treated for gunshot wounds on the Capitol grounds and showed video of protestors scampering through bashed in windows.
Members of the House of Representatives and the Senate had gathered Wednesday to count the electoral votes transmitted by the states. Trump and some lawmakers sought to use the process, which is usually ceremonial, to challenge the results of the election. Trump had pressured Pence, who presides over the process, to support his unfounded claims the vote was stolen.
This is a developing story…