Facebook’s internal security team has warned employees not to wear or carry any Facebook-branded gear in public, according to a new report from tech news site the Information. The warning comes after the social media giant banned President Donald Trump from the platform following a violent coup attempt by his followers at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
“In light of recent events, and to err on the side of caution, global security is encouraging everyone to avoid wearing or carrying Facebook-branded items at this time,” the memo said without apparently mentioning Trump by name. The warning was posted to an internal message board to company employees and reviewed by the Information.
While the memo doesn’t appear to explicitly say Facebook employees are at risk of physical assault by Trump supporters, it’s easy to read between the lines. The president’s neo-fascist followers are some of the most unhinged people on the planet and after their siege on the Capitol last week, which left five people dead, law enforcement authorities are warning about the potential for more violence in the coming days and weeks.
ABC News reports that pro-Trump rallies have been planned at all 50 state capitols and the FBI has issued a warning about the likelihood of violence in order to allow state governments to get ready. HuffPost also has a new report about three “protests” being planned around Washington D.C., which allegedly includes a scheme to encircle the White House to “protect” President Trump. Democrats in the U.S. House were warned about the plans on Monday, which may even include a plot to kill politicians.
Democrats were told that the Capitol Police and the National Guard were preparing for potentially tens of thousands of armed protesters coming to Washington and were establishing rules of engagement for warfare. In general, the military and police don’t plan to shoot anyone until one of the rioters fires, but there could be exceptions.
Lawmakers were told that the plot to encircle the Capitol also included plans to surround the White House ― so that no one could harm Trump ― and the Supreme Court, simply to shut down the courts. The plan to surround the Capitol includes assassinating Democrats as well as Republicans who didn’t support Trump’s effort to overturn the election ― and allowing other Republicans to enter the building and control government.
It’s no surprise that social media companies are worried about backlash from Trump’s cadre of dangerous extremists. Though one can’t help but wonder where we’d be today had companies like Facebook and Twitter taken Trump’s authoritarian language more seriously over the past four years.
These social media platforms allowed Trump to use racial slurs like “Pocahontas” to refer to Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren, they let him encourage his followers to commit felonies by voting twice, and they even sat by as he threatened nuclear war against North Korea—before he became besties with Kim Jong Un, of course.
Facebook and Twitter may have done the right thing by banning Trump after the Capitol coup attempt, but it’s way too late to call leadership at these companies anything but complicit in the damage Trump has done to the country. There would very likely be no Trump presidency without Twitter and Facebook.
Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment early Tuesday. We’ll update this post if we hear back, but only if they tell the truth, something that Facebook executives like Sheryl Sandburg still seem to struggle with on a daily basis.