Social media giant, Facebook, has announced that former US President, Donald Trump, will remain suspended on the Facebook and Instagram platforms for 2 years with effect from January 7, 2021.
The world’s largest social media company said that Trump will only be reinstated in 2023 if the risk to public safety has subsided.
This disclosure is contained in a statement issued by Facebook’s Vice President of Global Affairs, Nick Clegg, citing severe violation of their rules after the Capitol Hill riots of January 6, which attracts the highest penalty available under the new enforcement protocols.
What Facebook is saying in its statement
The statement from Facebook reads:
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“Last month, the Oversight Board upheld Facebook’s suspension of former U.S. President Donald Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts following his praise for people engaged in violence at the Capitol on January 6.
But in doing so, the board criticised the open-ended nature of the suspension, stating that it was not appropriate for Facebook to impose the indeterminate and standardless penalty of indefinite suspension.
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The board instructed us to review the decision and respond in a way that is clear and proportionate and made a number of recommendations on how to improve our policies and processes.
We are today announcing new enforcement protocols to be applied in exceptional cases such as this, and we are confirming the time-bound penalty consistent with those protocols which we are applying to Mr Trump’s accounts.
Given the gravity of the circumstances that led to Trump’s suspension, we believe his actions constituted a severe violation of our rules which merit the highest penalty available under the new enforcement protocols.
We are suspending his accounts for two years, effective from the date of the initial suspension on January 7 this year. At the end of this period, we will look to experts to assess whether the risk to public safety has receded.
We will evaluate external factors, including instances of violence, restrictions on peaceful assembly and other markers of civil unrest.”
Facebook stated that if the Oversight Board determined that there was still a serious risk to public safety, Facebook would extend the restriction for a set period of time and continue to re-evaluate until that risk had receded.
It also added that when the suspension is eventually lifted, there will be a strict set of rapidly escalating sanctions that will be triggered if Trump commits further violations in future, up to and including permanent removal of his pages and accounts.
Facebook also said:
“In establishing the two-year sanction for severe violations, we considered the need for it to be long enough to allow a safe period of time after the acts of incitement, to be significant enough to be a deterrent to Mr Trump and others from committing such severe violations in future and to be proportionate to the gravity of the violation itself.
We are grateful that the Oversight Board acknowledged that our original decision to suspend Trump was right and necessary, in the exceptional circumstances at the time.
But we absolutely accept that we did not have enforcement protocols in place, adequate to respond to such unusual events. Now that we have them, we hope and expect they will only be applicable in the rarest circumstances.”
What you should know
Donald Trump has struggled to maintain an online presence after being denied access to the broad reach afforded by social media giants like Facebook and Twitter, which permanently banned him in January.
He shut down his blog-like “From the Desk of Donald J. Trump” website this week, though he frequently sends out several press statements in a day, often targeted at fellow Republicans he believes are insufficiently loyal.
The 2-year timeline for reconsidering Trump’s ability to post means he could be back on Facebook and Instagram just as the 2024 presidential election cycle is beginning. Trump has hinted that he is seriously considering running for the presidency again in 2024.