STERLING, Va. -- President Donald Trump criticized social media companies after Facebook banned a number of extremist figures, declaring that he was "monitoring and watching" the companies.
Trump, who tweeted and re-tweeted complaints Friday and Saturday, said he would "monitor the censorship of American citizens on social media platforms." He has previously asserted that social media companies exhibit bias against conservatives, something the companies have rejected as untrue.
"This is the United States of America -- and we have what's known as freedom of speech!" Trump tweeted Friday.
The president's comments came after Facebook last week banned black nationalist minister Louis Farrakhan, Infowars owner Alex Jones and others, saying they violated its ban on "dangerous individuals."
Facebook also removed right-wing personalities Paul Nehlen, Milo Yiannopoulos, Paul Joseph Watson and Laura Loomer, along with Infowars, which often posts conspiracy theories online. The latest bans apply both to Facebook's main service and to its Instagram division, and extend to fan pages and other related accounts.
The social media giant said it has "always banned" people or groups that proclaim a violent or hateful mission or are engaged in acts of hate or violence, regardless of political ideology.
Watson, a British radio host and YouTube personality who goes by the Twitter handle PrisonPlanet, was among those banned on Facebook and Instagram. He tweeted Thursday that Trump should take action against Facebook.
On Saturday, Trump retweeted a message from the 36-year-old urging his followers to "keep up the pressure," and a second of Watson wondering whether the word "dangerous" better described his opinions "or giving a handful of giant partisan corporations the power to decide who has free speech."
Also retweeted Saturday were posts by Lauren Southern, a far-right Canadian political activist, and Jeremy Boreing, a filmmaker who directed The Arroyo, a 2014 movie about vigilante justice on the U.S.-Mexican border. Boreing also contributes to The Daily Wire, a conservative news and opinion website that he co-founded with political commentator Ben Shapiro.
On Twitter, Trump cited a number of individuals he said were being unfairly treated by social media companies, including actor James Woods and social media personalities "Diamond and Silk." The president said it was "getting worse and worse for Conservatives on social media!"
Woods, one of Hollywood's most outspoken conservatives, has had his Twitter account locked. Twitter spokesman Katie Rosborough said Woods will need to delete a tweet that violated Twitter rules before he can be reinstated.
Woods' tweet, written shortly after the release of special counsel Robert Mueller's report, was, "If you try to kill the King, you better not miss. #HangThemAll."
Trump tweeted: "How can it be possible that James Woods (and many others), a strong but responsible Conservative Voice, is banned from Twitter? Social Media & Fake News Media, together with their partner, the Democrat Party, have no idea the problems they are causing for themselves. Very unfair!"
Trump also retweeted actress Mindy Robinson, who argued that Woods was suspended from Twitter for quoting Ralph Waldo Emerson, who wrote, "When you strike at a king, you must kill him."
Rosborough said Twitter enforces its rules "impartially for all users, regardless of their background or political affiliation."
Trump, who uses Twitter extensively to push his message, recently met with Twitter Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey at the White House after attacking the company and complaining that it was not treating him well because he was a Republican. Trump later described it as a "great meeting."
Also Saturday, the president called for the "Radical Left Wing Media" to apologize for what he called the "Russian Collusion Delusion."
Information for this article was contributed by Ros Krasny and Kim Chipman of Bloomberg News; and by staff members of The Associated Press.
A Section on 05/05/2019
Print Headline: Social-media blocks incite Trump