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Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Trump is banned from posting on his Facebook and Instagram accounts for at least the next two weeks until the transition of power to President-elect Joe Biden is complete, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a post Thursday.

Why it matters: It's an extraordinary step for Facebook to take, given that the company has been one of the slowest to take action against the President's account and has historically prioritized free speech, especially for world leaders.

What's happening: After a pro-Trump mob sieged the U.S. Capitol for hours Wednesday, social media platforms began taking dramatic steps to limit the president's posts, which suggested the rioters were justified. After pressure from his aides, Trump posted a video telling his supporters to "go home," but adding that he loves them and that they are "very special."

What they're saying:

Over the last several years, we have allowed President Trump to use our platform consistent with our own rules, at times removing content or labeling his posts when they violate our policies. We did this because we believe that the public has a right to the broadest possible access to political speech, even controversial speech. But the current context is now fundamentally different, involving use of our platform to incite violent insurrection against a democratically elected government.
We believe the risks of allowing the President to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great. 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.
— Mark Zuckerberg

What to watch: It's unclear when Facebook will lift the ban, but given its history with content moderation and account bans, it's likely the platform is still experimenting with the best way to proceed.

  • Facebook was slow to implement a post election ad ban — only to implement it, then later extend it, then amend it for Georgia races, and then change it again for Georgia races. The political ad ban nationwide still stands, while Google's has been lifted for weeks.

Go deeper: Social media platforms muzzle Trump after Capitol melee

Go deeper

Jan 29, 2021 - Technology

Big Tech is outsourcing its hardest content moderation decisions

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Faced with the increasingly daunting task of consistent content moderation at scale, Big Tech companies are tossing their hardest decisions to outsiders, hoping to deflect some of the pressure they face for how they govern their platforms.

Why it matters: Every policy change, enforcement action or lack thereof prompts accusations that platforms like Facebook and Twitter are making politically motivated decisions to either be too lax or too harsh. Ceding responsibility to others outside the company may be the future of content moderation if it works.

Jan 29, 2021 - Technology

Facebook seeks a new head of U.S. public policy

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Facebook is looking externally for a new U.S. policy chief as it moves Kevin Martin, a Republican who now holds the job, to a different position, per a memo seen by Axios.

Between the lines: Facebook is moving on from the Trump era in which Republicans held most of the power in Washington and Facebook was particularly eager among tech companies to forge warm relations with GOP policymakers.

Jan 29, 2021 - Technology

Facebook developing a tool to help advertisers avoid bad news

Photo Illustration: Avishek Das/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Facebook on Friday said it's testing new advertiser "topic exclusion controls" to help address concerns marketers may have that their ads are appearing next to topics in Facebook's News Feed that they consider bad for their brand.  

Why it matters: As Axios has previously noted, the chaotic nature of the modern news cycle and digital advertising landscape has made it nearly impossible for brands to run ads against quality content in an automated fashion without encountering bad content.