NBC News on Thursday provided an inside look at how Facebook and Twitter came to their decisions to permanently ban US President Donald Trump from their platforms following last week’s violence at the US Capitol.
According to the report, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg started to consider indefinitely suspending Trump's Facebook account late on the night of January 6, just hours after the incident.
While Zuckerberg had until then taken a mostly hands-off approach to Trump's claims, a series of conversations with his top lieutenants led him to believe that Trump's incitement of violence to overturn the election crossed a line, people familiar with the conversations told NBC News.
The morning after the violence, Zuckerberg reportedly held a phone call with top Facebook executives in which he said he had decided that Trump's attempts to incite violence and undermine the democratic process were grounds for an indefinite suspension. No one voiced a dissenting opinion, the people familiar with the call said.
Shortly thereafter, Zuckerberg published a Facebook post explaining that "the risks of allowing the President to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great."
The same day, according to NBC, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey was considering a far more radical move, sources familiar with Twitter's deliberations said.
Based on the counsel of Vijaya Gadde, Twitter's legal chief and his most trusted lieutenant, Dorsey had come to believe that the appropriate course of action was to ban Trump's personal account permanently on the grounds that his ability to post presented a risk to public safety.
After a series of conversations with Gadde and other top Twitter executives, Dorsey approved a permanent ban which was announced on Friday.
Twitter and Facebook were the first of many companies to take action against Trump, and were followed by Google which suspended Trump's YouTube channel, Reddit which banned some pro-Trump forums, and Snapchat, which announced on Wednesday that it would permanently ban his account starting January 20.
Executives at Facebook, Twitter and other companies say they believe they made the right decisions, but they also have reservations about their own power, noted NBC News.
"The cost of this decision is that it sheds light on the fact that a small group of individuals get to make these decisions," said a Facebook executive involved in the deliberations about suspending Trump's account.
In a lengthy Twitter thread this week, Dorsey said Twitter's decision to ban Trump could set a "dangerous" precedent, highlighting "the power an individual or corporation has over a part of the global public conversation."
At the same time, he also pointed to companies that control more than just their own platforms.
"This moment in time might call for this dynamic, but over the long term it will be destructive to the noble purpose and ideals of the open internet. A company making a business decision to moderate itself is different from a government removing access, yet can feel much the same," he wrote.