© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Former US President Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, Florida, the United States, Feb. 28, 2021. REUTERS / Octavio Jones / File Photo
By Elizabeth Culliford
(Reuters) – Facebook Inc (NASDAQ 🙂 on Friday suspended former US President Donald Trump until at least January 2023 and announced changes to the treatment of world leaders who violate the rules on its website.
Facebook blocked Trump’s account the day after the deadly January 6 riot on Capitol Hill and found it had incited violence. This suspension will last at least two years from the date of the initial lockdown and would not be lifted until the risk to public safety has subsided, Facebook said on Friday.
Trump criticized the decision as a form of censorship and as an insult to his voters.
This new schedule denies Republican Trump a big social media megaphone ahead of the November 2022 congressional election, but it does mean he may be able to return to Facebook well before the next presidential election in late 2024.
Trump has been permanently banned from Twitter and remains banned from Alphabet (NASDAQ 🙂 ‘s YouTube riot. Trump, who closed his recently launched blog this week, has teased plans to launch his own platform.
“Given the gravity of the circumstances that led to Mr. Trump’s suspension, we believe his actions constituted a serious violation of our rules that deserves the highest penalty available under the new enforcement protocols,” said Nick Clegg, chief executive officer for global affairs from Facebook, in the mail.
Facebook’s board of directors, an independent group funded by the company that makes a small fraction of controversial content decisions, confirmed the company’s unprecedented blockade on Trump in May. However, the board considered it wrong to impose the ban indefinitely and called for an “appropriate response”.
In a statement on Friday, Trump criticized the decision and repeated false claims about electoral fraud: “Facebook’s decision is an insult to the record-breaking 75 million people and many others who voted for us in the rigged 2020 presidential election. We cannot get away with this censorship and silence, and in the end we will win. Our country can no longer bear this abuse! ”Several investigations have found no evidence of election fraud.
Trump added, “The next time I go to the White House, there will be no more dinners with Mark Zuckerberg and his wife at his request.
Facebook said it will work with experts to decide when the public safety risk will subside so that Trump can be restored to its platforms. It said it would assess factors such as incidents of violence, restrictions on peaceful assembly and other signs of civil unrest.
It also said there would be a series of escalating sanctions that would be triggered if Trump violated additional rules that could lead to his permanent dismissal.
White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters about Facebook’s decision on Trump that it “feels pretty unlikely that the zebra will change its stripes in the next two years, we’ll see”.
CHANGES IN POLICY
Social media companies have grappled with how to deal with world leaders and politicians who violate their guidelines for the past few years.
On Friday, the Nigerian government said it had indefinitely suspended Twitter activities in the country two days after the company removed a post from President Muhammadu Buhari that threatened to punish regional secessionists.
In a major reversal, which also occurred as part of Facebook’s Friday replies to its board of directors, Facebook said it “reverses the presumption we announced in 2019 that speeches by politicians are inherently of public interest”.
The company said it will now weigh harmful content from politicians against the potential risk of harm in the same way as it does to all users. It will also disclose when it will make use of its “newsworthiness” exception.
However, a Facebook spokesperson confirmed that politicians’ posts will remain exempt from third-party scrutiny.
Facebook has come under fire from those who feel it should abandon its hand-off approach to political speech, but has also been criticized by those, including Republican lawmakers and some free speech advocates who view the Trump ban as a worrying act the censorship.
His decision on Trump and new policy changes could have a major impact on how Facebook deals with violating world leaders and officials in its service. Public figures who break their rules by inciting or celebrating ongoing violence or civil unrest could be restricted for a period of one month to two years.
Social media companies have been urged by some human rights groups and activists to be more consistent in their dealings with other leaders who break or enforce their rules. Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and MPs from the Indian ruling party have taken a close look at this.
Facebook has also added some transparency to its standard system of how many “strikes” users can get before a lockdown, which typically lasts up to 30 days.
The Trump case was seen as a test of how the company responded to the verdict and recommendations of its recently established oversight body.
The board also recommended Facebook to review its role in the electoral fraud conspiracy that led to the January 6 siege, which Facebook said it would implement in part through its partnership with academics who play the role it will play in the 2020 US election has played investigate. Facebook said it was implementing 15 of the board’s 19 recommendations.
(This story has been rearranged to remove the redundant word “leader” in paragraph 20.)