YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook are scrambling to moderate posts from Trump surrogates threatening 'total war' and beheadings as the election comes down to Pennsylvania

YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook are scrambling to moderate posts from Trump surrogates threatening 'total war' and beheadings as the election comes down to Pennsylvania
Donald Trump Jr.Samuel Corum/Getty Images
  • YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook raced on Thursday to take action against tweets from Trump surrogates calling for violence over the election results in violation of the platforms' policies.
  • Twitter slapped a warning label on Donald Trump Jr.'s tweet calling for "total war" and suspended Steve Bannon's account for glorifying violence, while YouTube removed Bannon's video calling for the beheading of Dr. Anthony Fauci and FBI Director Christopher Wray.
  • The social-media platforms have applied warning labels and restricted the reach of a slew of tweets this week for spreading election misinformation.
  • In some cases, the platforms' algorithms and moderation teams caught posts relatively quickly, while many others have been widely viewed in what has become a rapid-fire game of cat-and-mouse between the platforms and conservatives seeking to undermine Americans' confidence in the election results.

Social-media platforms on Thursday scrambled to take action against numerous posts from Trump surrogates calling for violence over the election results.

Twitter applied a warning label to a tweet from Donald Trump Jr. that called for President Donald Trump to wage "total war" over the election results, made baseless claims about widespread election fraud, and called the US a "banana republic."

A Twitter spokesperson told Business Insider that Trump Jr.'s tweet violated its civic-integrity policy by "making a potentially misleading claim about an election" and that it would "significantly restrict engagements on this Tweet" in line with that policy.

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Twitter also banned the account of close Trump ally Steve Bannon for making violent threats. Twitter's policy states the company "will immediately and permanently suspend any account found to be posting violent threats."

"The @WarRoomPandemic account has been permanently suspended for violating the Twitter Rules, specifically our policy on the glorification of violence," a spokesperson told Business Insider.


YouTube also removed a video posted by Bannon that called for violence against Dr. Anthony Fauci and FBI Director Christopher Wray for disagreeing with Trump, saying "I'd put their heads on pikes."

"We've removed this video for violating our policy against inciting violence. We will continue to be vigilant as we enforce our policies in the post-election period," YouTube spokesperson Alex Joseph told Business Insider.

Facebook on Thursday activated a number of tools intended to slow the spread of misinformation, such as adding additional "friction" before users can share posts and downranking election-related misinformation, The New York Times reported.

YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook all have policies against inciting violence or making violent threats, as well as policies against spreading misinformation that could undermine the integrity of elections and voting processes.

In the weeks leading up to Election Day, the platforms have been on full alert for such posts, and have had to take action on a number of posts from dozens of Trump surrogates, particularly in battleground states where vote counts are closely split between Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden or where election officials are still counting ballots.


But the platforms have taken different approaches.

YouTube has faced criticism for not taking stronger steps as some election misinformation videos have gone viral, and the platform allowed channels to make money off livestreams showing fake election results, some with thousands of viewers.

On Wednesday, Twitter slapped warnings on a wave of tweets by GOP officials and Trump allies making unsubstantiated claims of election fraud and interference in Pennsylvania, a major battleground state.

Twitter also took action on Trump tweets falsely and baselessly claiming a Supreme Court decision in Pennsylvania could lead to election fraud, falsely and baselessly claiming election fraud on Wednesday, and falsely and baselessly claiming victory in the election.

Since early on Tuesday, Twitter had applied warning labels to 38% of Trump's tweets, according to The New York Times. While Facebook applied informational labels to a variety of Trump posts, misinformation experts said Twitter overall has done a better job reining in Trump's false election posts.