Facebook suspends Donald Trump for at least two years
said he was suspending Donald Trump’s accounts for two years, formalizing a long-term penalty for the former US president after his independent supervisory board said the company was wrong to keep the ban open.
The move immediately ignited the long-standing partisan debate over how much control tech companies should have over online speech. With Mr. Trump also permanently banned from Twitter, Facebook’s sanction shuts down one of its primary means of influencing political discussion for an extended period.
Facebook said it would reconsider the suspension two years from the date of its original decision to suspend it on Jan. 7, the day after a pro-Trump mob stormed the United States Capitol as lawmakers certified President Biden’s victory. Facebook and other social media companies removed the then president from their platforms, accusing him of inciting a riot.
Assuming he was subsequently reinstated, Mr Trump would face “a strict set of rapidly escalating sanctions” if he committed further violations, including the permanent deletion of his pages and accounts, the company said. .
“Given the gravity of the circumstances which led to Mr. Trump’s suspension, we believe his actions were a serious violation of our rules which deserve the highest penalty available under the new enforcement protocols,” wrote Nick Clegg, the company’s vice president of global affairs. , in a blog post Friday.
In an emailed statement after the announcement, Mr. Trump said Facebook’s move was an insult to the millions who voted for him in 2020. “They shouldn’t be allowed to get away with it. this censorship and this silence, and ultimately, we are going to win. Our country can no longer endure this abuse! ”he said.
In a follow-up statement, Mr Trump added: “The next time I am in the White House there will be no more dinners, at his request, with Mark Zuckerberg and his wife. That will be all business!
Mr Trump and his advisers are considering a range of options that they hope will restore his megaphone online, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Facebook said it was grateful to the Supervisory Board for agreeing to the decision to suspend Mr. Trump in the first place, and said it accepted the need for better protocols for such actions. The company said it has already adopted or will implement the board’s recommendations for greater transparency when it penalizes high profile figures and when it chooses to grant exemptions from its normal application. He also said he was working to give users a clearer explanation of why they were being punished when they violated Facebook policies.
Responding to criticism from the board, Facebook is also opening the door to more, as the company will now have to make more subjective decisions about whether posts by political figures violate its rules regarding disinformation, hate speech and more. other issues which are the subject of heated debate. These appeals for judgment are likely to escalate partisan complaints about whether the company is fair in the way it applies the rules.
“We know that today’s decision will be criticized by many on both sides of the political divide,” Mr. Clegg said in Friday’s post, adding that “our job is to make a decision about it. ‘as proportionate, fair and transparent as possible “. possible, in accordance with the instructions given by the Supervisory Board.
Facebook created and funded the Supervisory Board to independently rule on the company’s toughest content decisions, and Trump’s suspension is by far its most high-profile case to date.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Friday that the decision whether or not to ban users should be left to the companies that run the platforms.
“Our view, however, continues to be that every platform, be it Facebook, Twitter, any other platform that disseminates information to millions of Americans has a responsibility to fight disinformation, to fight against false information, whether it is about the elections or even about the vaccine, ”she said.
Of Mr. Trump, she said: “It is quite unlikely that the zebra will change stripes in the next two years. We’ll see.”
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has long taken a position not to interfere with politicians’ posts on his platform, saying it is not for the company to comment on what is true and which is not.
In 2016, the company implemented a policy exempting from penalties posts that violate its rules if it classifies content as newsworthy or important in the public interest. Two years ago, amid growing controversy over Mr. Trump’s posts, Facebook extended this media value exemption to posts by politicians and said it would exclude their content from its fact-checking process by a third.
Facebook said on Friday that it would no longer consider posts by politicians to be newsworthy by default, but would pass its own judgment on those who qualify, and then label those who deserve the exemption.
Facebook’s move on Friday came a month after the Supervisory Board ruled that the social media giant was justified in suspending Mr. Trump for posts in which he urged his supporters to visit Capitol Hill as lawmakers certified the victory of President Biden. But he said the company needs to better explain its reasoning if it decides to ban it permanently from its platforms.
In the decision, the board gave Facebook six months to determine whether Mr. Trump should be permanently banned.
“Facebook is not allowed to keep a user off the platform for an indefinite period without any criteria as to when or if the account will be restored,” the board said in the decision.
Other companies have faced similar problems and have taken different approaches. Twitter Inc.
grants special privileges to world leaders as well, and these rules have allowed Mr. Trump to remain a prominent user of the platform throughout his administration, even though the company has affixed several of its tweets with tags warning. The company banned it completely after the Capitol Riot and, unlike Facebook, has no plans to revisit this decision any further.
YouTube, a unit of Alphabet Inc.,
said it did not grant politicians exemptions from its current rules. The company also suspended Mr Trump’s account in January and said it would reinstate him when it concludes the risk of further violence has eased, although it has offered no explanation as to how she will make that decision.
Pressure on tech companies is increasing globally, with governments, especially India and Russia, tightening controls on authorized speech.
In a statement released on Friday, the Supervisory Board said it was encouraged by the measures taken by Facebook and believed that they would result in more consistency and transparency in the way the company monitors its platforms. The board “intends to hold the company to account on its commitments,” the statement said.
One of the few areas of disagreement was with the board’s questions and criticism of a program called Crosscheck, in which Facebook examines potential violations by high-level accounts through a separate process from that used for users. regular. The board asked for more information about the program and asked Facebook to produce a public analysis to determine if it has produced more lenient results. Facebook said the program did not grant special privileges, but called the board’s request unworkable.
—Andrew Restuccia contributed to this article.
Corrections and amplifications
Jen Psaki is the White House press secretary. An earlier version of this article misspelled his last name as Paski. (Corrected June 4)
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