A White House spokesman said no one had been more successful at using digital media than Mr. Trump and that it was “incredibly ironic, yet not surprising, that when the president spoke to the country at a critical time, Big Tech chose to censor and block him from doing so. Big Tech is out of control.”
Over the past year, Facebook and Twitter had started taking some steps to label Mr. Trump’s posts as inaccurate and to direct users to reliable information. But they had remained largely unwilling to delete Mr. Trump’s messages or limit his account.
At Facebook, that unwillingness changed on Wednesday after Mr. Trump egged on his supporters using social media and a mob stormed the Capitol building. From their homes, Mr. Zuckerberg and other executives — including the chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg, the head of policy, Monica Bickert, the vice president of integrity, Guy Rosen, and the head of international policy and communications, Nicholas Clegg — dialed into video calls to discuss what to do, said two people who were on the call and who were not authorized to speak publicly.
After Twitter locked Mr. Trump’s account late Wednesday, Mr. Zuckerberg approved removing two posts from the president’s Facebook page, the two people said. By that evening, Mr. Zuckerberg had decided to restrict Mr. Trump’s Facebook account for the rest of his term — and perhaps indefinitely, they said.
“What we watched and saw in real-time on TV — that was atrocious, a violent insurrection, deeply disturbing,” Mr. Zuckerberg said on a conference call with Facebook employees on Thursday, which The New York Times listened to. “You just can’t have a functioning democracy without a peaceful transition of power.”
Mr. Zuckerberg also criticized Mr. Trump directly on the call, saying the president was “fanning the flames of his supporters who moved to overturn the election outcome.”
Ms. Bickert added that while Mr. Trump’s posts had not been direct calls for violence — the standard Facebook uses to take down posts — executives “felt that these posts did more to contribute to, rather than diminish, the risk of continuing violence.”