UK politicians warned after Trump ‘incites’ riots at Capitol building

Politicians in the UK and across the rest of the world have been warned to "take heed" of the impact of their words after a crowd of Donald Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol, leaving four dead.

Right-wing supporters of the president invaded the historic centre of US democracy on Wednesday, driven by his false claims that November's election had been illegally stolen from Mr Trump by opponents.

The events were no surprise to experts who have studied the spread of false information online, such as Dr Paul Reilly, senior lecturer in social media and digital society at the University of Sheffield.

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Pro-Trump protesters swarm US Capitol
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Pro-Trump protesters swarm US Capitol
TOPSHOT - A supporter of US President Donald Trump wears a gas mask as he protests after storming the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC. - Demonstrators breeched security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the a 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certification. President-elect Joe Biden denounced the storming of the US Capitol as an "insurrection" and demanded President Donald Trump go on television to call an end to the violent "siege." (Photo by Brendan SMIALOWSKI / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Trump supporters gather outside the U.S. Capitol building following a "Stop the Steal" rally on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. A pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol earlier, breaking windows and clashing with police officers. Trump supporters gathered in the nation's capital to protest the ratification of President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College victory over President Donald Trump in the 2020 election. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
US President-elect Joe Biden speaks at the Queen Theater on January 6, 2021, in Wilmington, Delaware. - Biden on Wednesday denounced the storming of the US Capitol as an "insurrection" and demanded President Donald Trump go on television to call an end to the violent "siege." (Photo by JIM WATSON / AFP) (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Protesters supporting U.S. President Donald Trump storm the U.S. Capitol on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Congress held a joint session today to ratify President-elect Joe Biden's 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. Pro-Trump protesters entered the U.S. Capitol building during demonstrations in the nation's capital. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Trump supporters gather outside the U.S. Capitol building following a "Stop the Steal" rally on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. A pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol earlier, breaking windows and clashing with police officers. Trump supporters gathered in the nation's capital to protest the ratification of President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College victory over President Donald Trump in the 2020 election. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: A protester supporting U.S. President Donald Trump moves to the floor of the Senate chamber at the U.S. Capitol Building on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Congress held a joint session today to ratify President-elect Joe Biden's 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. A group of Republican senators said they would reject the Electoral College votes of several states unless Congress appointed a commission to audit the election results (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
A Trump supporter waves a flag as he stands on an government vehicle in front of the US Capitol in Washington D.C on January 6, 2021. - Demonstrators breeched security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the a 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certification. (Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP) (Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON D.C., USA - JANUARY 6: Equipment of media crews damaged during clashes after the US President Donald Trumps supporters breached the US Capitol security in Washington D.C., United States on January 06, 2021. Pro-Trump rioters stormed the US Capitol as lawmakers were set to sign off Wednesday on President-elect Joe Biden's electoral victory in what was supposed to be a routine process headed to Inauguration Day. (Photo by Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Trump supporters gather in front of the Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta on January 6, 2021. - Demonstrators breeched security and entered the US Capitol in Washington, DC,as Congress debated the a 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certification. (Photo by virginie kippelen / AFP) (Photo by VIRGINIE KIPPELEN/AFP via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Police officers attempt to push back a pro-Trump mob trying to storm the U.S. Capitol following a rally with President Donald Trump on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC. Trump supporters gathered in the nation's capital today to protest the ratification of President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College victory over President Trump in the 2020 election. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Trump supporters gather outside the U.S. Capitol building following a "Stop the Steal" rally on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. A pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol earlier, breaking windows and clashing with police officers. Trump supporters gathered in the nation's capital to protest the ratification of President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College victory over President Donald Trump in the 2020 election. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Police officers in riot gear line up as protesters gather on the U.S. Capitol Building on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Pro-Trump protesters entered the U.S. Capitol building after mass demonstrations in the nation's capital during a joint session Congress to ratify President-elect Joe Biden's 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Thousands of Donald Trump supporters gather outside the U.S. Capitol building following a "Stop the Steal" rally on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. A large group of protesters stormed the historic building, breaking windows and clashing with police. Trump supporters had gathered in the nation's capital today to protest the ratification of President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College victory over President Trump in the 2020 election. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON D.C., USA - JANUARY 6: Security forces take measures at the entrance of US Capitol and respond after the US President Donald Trumps supporters breached the US Capitol security in Washington D.C., United States on January 06, 2021. Pro-Trump rioters stormed the US Capitol as lawmakers were set to sign off Wednesday on President-elect Joe Biden's electoral victory in what was supposed to be a routine process headed to Inauguration Day. (Photo by Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Supporters of US President Donald Trump enter the US Capitol as smoke fills the corridor on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC. There are no reports of tear gas being used at the Capitol. - Demonstrators breeched security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the a 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certification. (Photo by Saul LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as people try to storm the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC, on January 6, 2021. - Demonstrators breeched security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the a 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certification. (Photo by Joseph Prezioso / AFP) (Photo by JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Police officers in riot gear walks towards the U.S. Capitol as protesters enter the building on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Trump supporters gathered in the nation's capital today to protest the ratification of President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College victory over President Trump in the 2020 election. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Protesters gather on the U.S. Capitol Building on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Pro-Trump protesters entered the U.S. Capitol building after mass demonstrations in the nation's capital during a joint session Congress to ratify President-elect Joe Biden's 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Protesters stand on scaffolding outside the U.S. Capitol Building on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Pro-Trump protesters entered the U.S. Capitol building after mass demonstrations in the nation's capital during a joint session Congress to ratify President-elect Joe Biden's 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
A man calls on people to raid the building as Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as they try to storm the Capital Building in Washington D.C on January 6, 2021. - Demonstrators breeched security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the a 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certification. (Photo by Joseph Prezioso / AFP) (Photo by JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Protesters gather on the U.S. Capitol Building on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Pro-Trump protesters entered the U.S. Capitol building after mass demonstrations in the nation's capital during a joint session Congress to ratify President-elect Joe Biden's 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
Supporters of US President Donald Trump protest inside the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC. - Demonstrators breeched security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the a 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certification. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Protesters gather on the second day of pro-Trump events fueled by President Donald Trump's continued claims of election fraud in an to overturn the results before Congress finalizes them in a joint session of the 117th Congress on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
Supporters of US President Donald Trump enter the US Capitol's Rotunda on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC. - Demonstrators breeched security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the a 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certification. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Protesters enter the U.S. Capitol Building on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Congress held a joint session today to ratify President-elect Joe Biden's 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. A group of Republican senators said they would reject the Electoral College votes of several states unless Congress appointed a commission to audit the election results. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Supporters of US President Donald Trump enter the US Capitol's Rotunda on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC. - Demonstrators breeched security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the a 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certification. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Protesters gather outside the U.S. Capitol Building on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Pro-Trump protesters entered the U.S. Capitol building after mass demonstrations in the nation's capital during a joint session Congress to ratify President-elect Joe Biden's 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Protesters gather outside the U.S. Capitol Building on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Pro-Trump protesters entered the U.S. Capitol building after mass demonstrations in the nation's capital during a joint session Congress to ratify President-elect Joe Biden's 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Protesters interact with Capitol Police inside the U.S. Capitol Building on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Congress held a joint session today to ratify President-elect Joe Biden's 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. A group of Republican senators said they would reject the Electoral College votes of several states unless Congress appointed a commission to audit the election results. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Supporters of US President Donald Trump protest outside the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC. - Demonstrators breeched security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the a 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certification. (Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP) (Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: A man is seen bleeding outside the U.S. Capitol Building on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Pro-Trump protesters entered the U.S. Capitol building after mass demonstrations in the nation's capital during a joint session Congress to ratify President-elect Joe Biden's 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Protesters gather on the second day of pro-Trump events fueled by President Donald Trump's continued claims of election fraud in an to overturn the results before Congress finalizes them in a joint session of the 117th Congress on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Protesters gather outside the U.S. Capitol Building on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Pro-Trump protesters entered the U.S. Capitol building after mass demonstrations in the nation's capital during a joint session Congress to ratify President-elect Joe Biden's 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Protesters enter the Senate Chamber on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Congress held a joint session today to ratify President-elect Joe Biden's 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. Pro-Trump protesters have entered the U.S. Capitol building after mass demonstrations in the nation's capital. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Supporters of US President Donald Trump enter the US Capitol's Rotunda on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC. - Demonstrators breeched security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the a 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certification. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Protesters gather outside the U.S. Capitol Building on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Pro-Trump protesters entered the U.S. Capitol building after mass demonstrations in the nation's capital during a joint session Congress to ratify President-elect Joe Biden's 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
Supporters of US President Donald Trump take over stands set up for the presidential inauguration as they protest at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, January 6, 2021. - Demonstrators breeched security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the a 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certification. (Photo by Olivier DOULIERY / AFP) (Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: A protester sits in the Senate Chamber on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Congress held a joint session today to ratify President-elect Joe Biden's 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. Pro-Trump protesters have entered the U.S. Capitol building after mass demonstrations in the nation's capital. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Members of Congress evacuate the House Chamber as protesters attempt to enter during a joint session of Congress on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Congress held a joint session today to ratify President-elect Joe Biden's 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. A group of Republican senators said they would reject the Electoral College votes of several states unless Congress appointed a commission to audit the election results. Pro-Trump protesters entered the U.S. Capitol building after mass demonstrations in the nation's capital. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Protesters enter the Senate Chamber on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Congress held a joint session today to ratify President-elect Joe Biden's 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. Pro-Trump protesters have entered the U.S. Capitol building after mass demonstrations in the nation's capital. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as people try to storm the US Capitol in Washington D.C on January 6, 2021. - Demonstrators breeched security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the a 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certification. (Photo by Joseph Prezioso / AFP) (Photo by JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: A protester sits in the Senate Chamber on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Congress held a joint session today to ratify President-elect Joe Biden's 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. Pro-Trump protesters have entered the U.S. Capitol building after mass demonstrations in the nation's capital. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Police hold back supporters of US President Donald Trump as they gather outside the US Capitol's Rotunda on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC. - Demonstrators breeched security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the a 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certification. (Photo by Olivier DOULIERY / AFP) (Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images)
Supporters of US President Donald Trump enter the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC. - Demonstrators breeched security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the a 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certification. (Photo by Saul LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Protesters gather inside the U.S. Capitol Building on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Congress held a joint session today to ratify President-elect Joe Biden's 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. A group of Republican senators said they would reject the Electoral College votes of several states unless Congress appointed a commission to audit the election results. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Supporters of US President Donald Trump take over stands set up for the presidential inauguration as they protest at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, January 6, 2021. - Thousands of Trump supporters, fueled by his spurious claims of voter fraud, are flooding the nation's capital protesting the expected certification of Joe Biden's White House victory by the US Congress. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: A protester is seen inside the US Capitol Building on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Congress held a joint session today to ratify President-elect Joe Biden's 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. A group of Republican senators said they would reject the Electoral College votes of several states unless Congress appointed a commission to audit the election results. Pro-Trump protesters entered the U.S. Capitol building during demonstrations in the nation's capital. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Supporters of US President Donald Trump enter the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC. - Demonstrators breeched security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the a 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certification. (Photo by Saul LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
Supporters of US President Donald Trump enter the US Capitol's Rotunda on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC. - Demonstrators breeched security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the a 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certification. (Photo by Saul LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JANUARY 6: Trump supporters stand on the U.S. Capitol Police armored vehicle as others take over the steps of the Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, as the Congress works to certify the electoral college votes. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Mike Pence preside over a Joint session of Congress to certify the 2020 Electoral College results on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, January 6, 2021. - Congress is meeting to certify Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 presidential election, with scores of Republican lawmakers preparing to challenge the tally in a number of states during what is normally a largely ceremonial event. (Photo by Erin Schaff / POOL / AFP) (Photo by ERIN SCHAFF/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
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"There's been several months of disinformation spread on social media, alleging that the election has been stolen from Donald Trump, amplified by Donald Trump," he told the PA news agency.

US Capitol protest
Donald Trump's latest video was censored by Twitter, YouTube and Facebook (Twitter/Donald Trump)

"And unfortunately, the scenes we saw last night were perhaps an inevitable consequence of this."

Mr Trump received further criticism after releasing a video during the riots repeating his false election claims and telling the demonstrators "we love you".

It was later censored by Facebook, Twitter and YouTube for its potential to incite violence.

"I think Donald Trump's role in amplifying this content is in large part responsible for what we saw last night," Dr Reilly added.

Jenni Sargent, managing director of First Draft, a not-for-profit organisation which monitors and combats dis- and misinformation, said the prospect of such violence as that seen in Washington DC was "there in plain sight".

She cited the viral spread of conspiracies theories such as QAnon, which includes, among other things, false claims that Mr Trump is secretly fighting "deep-state" enemies and a cabal of child sex traffickers.

Ms Sargent pointed out that many of the demonstrators were wearing clothing or carrying flags related to QAnon or other related online groups, adding that while such people had been treated as an "extreme fringe", they had now entered the mainstream.

"These are very tribal communities that feel very passionately about something," she said.

"We've got merchandise, we've got logos, we've got icons that help people define themselves and proudly present themselves as a member now of these online groups."

Electoral College Protests
A demonstrator dressed as Lady Liberty wears a shirt with the letter Q, referring to QAnon outside the Capitol building (Ted S. Warren/AP)

Banners bearing QAnon and related slogans have also been seen at UK rallies, such as those involving former English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson.

Ms Sargent said right-wing groups in the UK had begun organising around the false theory and others like it.

"They're very similar narratives that align with everything that's happening with Brexit. And there are these groups all over the internet across the UK and Europe. So it's certainly not just a US issue."

Dr Reilly said Mr Trump's role in the violence in Washington should act as a warning to politicians elsewhere.

"I'd like to hope that politicians in the UK would take heed of what's happened there," he said.

He added that he hoped those who shared anti-vaccine or anti-mask messages would "take note of what the long term impact of that might be".

"What might appear to be playing to your base or something which helps you mobilise support during contentious issues or elections might ultimately lead to people not believing in the institutions themselves, and (could evolve into) the sort of armed insurrection we saw last night in the US."

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