In a series of tweets Friday night, President Trump lamented the plight of high-profile conservatives and right-wing conspiracy theorists who he claimed were being “censored” by social media platforms.
“I am continuing to monitor the censorship of AMERICAN CITIZENS on social media platforms. This is the United States of America—and we have what’s known as FREEDOM OF SPEECH!” Trump wrote in a tweet. “We are monitoring and watching, closely!!”
A number of figures were banned from Facebook on Thursday—including former Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos, InfoWars contributor Paul Joseph Watson, and far-right figure Laura Loomer. InfoWars’ Alex Jones, who was already banned from Facebook, was also banned on Instagram.
Trump came to the defense of Watson and actor James Woods in particular, writing in another tweet that he was “so surprised” to see “conservative thinkers” like them banished from social media sites. Watson has spread a myriad of misinformation across YouTube and InfoWars, including conspiracy theories about Barack Obama’s birth certificate, chemtrails, the Virginia Tech mass shooting, and the Oklahoma City bombing.
“We've always banned individuals or organizations that promote or engage in violence and hate, regardless of ideology,” a Facebook spokesperson told The Daily Beast about the bans. “The process for evaluating potential violators is extensive and it is what led us to our decision to remove these accounts today.”
The president also claimed Woods was banned from Twitter. In reality, his account was suspended for “abusive behavior” after he wrote a tweet with the hashtag “#HangThemAll.”
Twitter reportedly told BuzzFeed News that Woods could have his account access restored if he played by the platform’s rules. “He's been told that all he needs to do is delete the tweet that violates our rules and the account access will be restored,” a Twitter spokesperson reportedly said.
The president also complained that two popular Trump surrogates and sisters, Lynette Hardaway and Rochelle Richardson (AKA Diamond and Silk), “have been treated so horribly by Facebook” in another tweet, apparently referring to their oft-repeated claims that Facebook prevents their content from spreading. “They work so hard and what has been done to them is very sad - and we’re looking into. It’s getting worse and worse for Conservatives on social media!” Trump wrote.