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Yes, this is the first time a member of Congress has been censured for a social media post

The House of Representatives voted 223-207 to censure Rep. Paul Gosar for posting a graphic video to social media.

Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar was censured by the House of Representatives on Nov. 17 for “posting a certain video on his social media accounts that depicts violence against Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and President Joseph R. Biden.”

Gosar posted the now-deleted 90-second video to his Twitter and Instagram accounts on Nov. 7. The video was an altered anime video showing Gosar and other Republicans attacking or killing some Democratic lawmakers, including Ocasio-Cortez and Biden. 

Hours after the censure, despite his original video being deleted, Gosar retweeted the same video that was posted from a different account.

THE QUESTION

Is this the first time a member of Congress ever been censured for content posted to social media?

THE SOURCES

THE ANSWER

This is true.

Yes, this is the first time a sitting member of the Congress has been disciplined, or censured, for a social media post. 

WHAT WE FOUND

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stood before the podium in the House on Wednesday, Nov. 17, to announce Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) was censured. The House voted 223-207 for the censure, with two Republicans -- Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) -- voting in favor.

House Resolution 789 was brought before Congress on Nov. 12, asking for the censure of Gosar. The resolution called for Gosar to be disciplined for the threats of violence to members of Congress and against the president. 

When a member of Congress is censured, they are disciplined but not expelled from the House, according to official House records. The censured individual may be stripped of their committee assignments, and also has to stand on the House floor as the Speaker delivers the adoption of the House resolution to censure. 

According to House records, the last sitting member of Congress to be censured was Charles Rangel, a Democratic representative from New York, for several reasons including campaign and tax violations. He was censured in December 2010. 

Since 1832, and up until Gosar’s censure, there have been 23 censures by the House, with the first being in 1832 when Ohio Rep. William Stanbury insulted someone on the House floor. Historical records show none of the reasons for censure until now have been because of social media. 

Since the video emerged, it was reported that the House of Ethics Committee was expected to introduce a revision to the code of conduct to discipline members of the House for posting manipulated media to social networking sites. 

There are currently no rules outlined in the official code of conduct on how members of Congress operate on social media. 

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