Donald Trump banned from Facebook…indefinitely?
Former US president Donald Trump has lashed out at Facebook after the social media company’s independent oversight board upheld a decision to ban him from the platform for the moment.
Photograph: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images
Mr Trump’s social media accounts were suspended on January 6 for several posts he made in the lead up to the US Capitol insurrection. However, Facebook will have to “reassess” the indefinite ban given to Mr Trump within six months. Facebook’s suspension at the time was justified by the risk of serious danger.
Facebook was seeking to avoid its responsibilities by applying “a vague, standard-less penalty” and then referring the case to the board to resolve. Oversight board Co-chair, Michael McConnell said, “Indefinite penalties of this sort do not pass the international smell test,” in a conference call with reporters.
In response to the board’s decision, Mr Trump released a statement accusing social media companies of violating his free speech.
“What Facebook, Twitter, and Google have done is a total disgrace and an embarrassment to our Country. These corrupt social media companies must pay a political price and must never again be allowed to destroy and decimate our Electoral Process.”
Photograph: Jonathan Hordle/ITV/Rex/Shutterstock
Nick Clegg, Facebook vice-president of global affairs and communication said “We will now consider the board’s decision and determine an action that is clear and proportionate”. The decision marked the first time Facebook had blocked a current president, prime minister, or head of state over a post they had made.
“We love you. You’re very special,” he said to the rioters in the first post. In the second, he called them “great patriots” and told them to “remember this day forever.” The Board said the posts violated Facebook’s rules against praising or supporting people engaged in violence.
Photograph: Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images
At the time of the suspension, Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said in a post that “the risks of allowing the President to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great.” The company later referred the case to its recently established board, which includes academics, lawyers and rights activists, to decide whether to uphold the ban or restore Mr Trump’s accounts.
The binding verdict marks a major decision for the board, which rules on a small slice of challenging content decisions and which Facebook created as an independent body as a response to criticism over how it handles problematic material.
By Charlotte Robertson