President Donald Trump took to Twitter on Saturday to blast social media platforms for unfairly marginalizing conservative voices, days after Facebook banned several so-called extremist users from its platform.
The series of tweets and retweets by the president intensified his public feud with social media giants like Twitter and Facebook. Trump has claimed social media companies unfairly target conservative voices, but platforms like Facebook said the ban is routine.
This week Facebook permanently banned several so-called extremist figures, including InfoWars conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, white nationalist Paul Nehlan, alt-right figure Milo Yiannopoulos and Louis Farrakhan, the Nation of Islam leader who made numerous anti-Semitic statements for promoting violence, hate, or racism on the platform, according to media reports.
Trump tweeted on Friday afternoon that he was monitoring “censorship” by social media platforms, adding: “This is the United States of America -– and we have what’s known as freedom of speech! We are monitoring and watching, closely!!”
Over the next day, Trump retweeted complaints about Facebook's recent social media ban from people like Paul Joseph Watson, who has helped promote conspiracy theories that 9/11 was an inside job and was banned from Facebook, and Lauren Southern, who claims that immigrants and Islam “screwed” her generation.
The president also tweeted about James Woods, a Hollywood actor whose Twitter account was suspended for tweeting “If you try to kill the King, you better not miss. #HangThemAll” in response to the Mueller report.
We’ve always banned individuals or organizations that promote or engage in violence and hate, regardless of ideology. The process for evaluating potential violators is extensive and it is what led us to our decision to remove these accounts today.
Yet Twitter said in a statement that Woods is not banned: once he deletes the tweet, his access will be restored.
The president tweeted: “How can it be possible that James Woods (and many others), a strong but responsible Conservative Voice, is banned from Twitter?” Trump tweeted while returning from his golf club in Virginia. “Social Media & Fake News Media, together with their partner, the Democrat Party, have no idea the problems they are causing for themselves. VERY UNFAIR!”
The president's son Donald Trump Jr. also chimed in, and tweeted: "the media won't be happy until anyone to the right of @CNN is banned from having a voice. And let’s not pretend this is just about social media either, leftists are already pressuring web-hosting sites, banks & credit card companies to ban people they disagree with politically."
Republicans on Capitol Hill have spent more than a year holding hearings over what they claim is bias against conservative news and viewpoints, even suggesting the censorship of some political speech raises antitrust issues. But tech companies say it's not about political speech, but rather speech that incites violence or hate.
The president, seeming to side with those who were banned from Facebook, shared content from conspiracy theory website InfoWars, which has attacked the parents of Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims, and a video from an account called @DeepStateExposed that shows video of a Muslim man saying that Americans should become Muslims or die.
Trump most recently met with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey at the White House where he reportedly complained about losing Twitter followers and talked about social media, and some of its regulations.
ABC News’ Soo Youn contributed from New York.