Shopify removes Trump-affiliated stores following U.S. Capitol riots

Canadian tech giant Shopify has moved to ban U.S. President Donald Trump and his associated brands from its e-commerce platform the day after his supporters breached the U.S. Capitol building in an attempt to block lawmakers from certifying the results of the 2020 election.

A Shopify spokesperson confirmed to Global News on Thursday that the Ottawa-based company, which hosts online stores for more than one million merchants across the globe, has taken down stores for the Trump Organization and any other storefronts associated with the president.

“Shopify does not tolerate actions that incite violence,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

“Based on recent events, we have determined that the actions by President Donald J. Trump violate our Acceptable Use Policy, which prohibits promotion or support of organizations, platforms or people that threaten or condone violence to further a cause. As a result, we have terminated stores affiliated with President Trump.”

The move comes after a horde of Trump supporters marched on the U.S. Capitol building as lawmakers inside were working to ratify Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election, briefly stopping the count. Four people have now died in connection with the riots.

Shopify is the latest tech giant to join the backlash to Trump’s rhetoric, which many saw as inciting Wednesday’s actions.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg announced Thursday that Trump’s account on the social media platform and Instagram will be suspended for at least the next two weeks, ahead of Biden’s inauguration.

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Twitter flagged numerous Trump tweets on Wednesday and removed two of them before also temporarily suspending the president’s account for 12 hours.

Trump late Wednesday promised an “orderly transition” following the riots, but maintained his assertions that the election outcome was not legitimate.

Shopify’s decision to ban Trump comes years after the company’s founder Tobi Lutke wrote about the value of free speech in a 2017 Medium post, in which he explained why he was allowing far-right news network Breitbart to continue using his company’s offerings.

“It would be easy to kick off merchants we don’t like, and doing so would actually make our lives significantly easier,” he wrote at the time.

“To kick off a merchant is to censor ideas and interfere with the free exchange of products at the core of commerce. When we kick off a merchant, we’re asserting our own moral code as the superior one.”

Lutke walked back his comments a year later with an update to that post, saying the company’s views on the matter had “evolved.”

At that time, he said deferring solely to what was legal and what was not as a basis for what stores Shopify would host was a “functionally unworkable” approach during an “age of political gridlock.”

The company updated its acceptable use policy at the time to ban the sale of firearms and other products intended to cause harm.

A few months later, Shopify would also ban organizations designated as hate groups, such as the far-right Proud Boys, from using its platform.

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“We reserve the right to wake up smarter every day. And therefore Shopify will have to make decisions based on judgement when there is not a black and white, or even existing, legal solution,” Lutke wrote in 2018.

— With files from the Canadian Press

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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