Former President Donald Trump’s Facebook account was suspended for two years, but he was able to reactivate it in time for the 2024 election cycle.
However, Facebook has warned that if Trump breaks the company’s policies again, his Facebook and Instagram accounts would face sanctions or be terminated entirely.
“When the suspension is lifted, Mr. Trump will face a stringent set of quickly rising consequences, up to and including permanent termination of his pages and accounts,” Facebook stated Friday.
Following the Jan. 6 attack, Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts were frozen after he lauded supporters who rushed the Capitol.
On Jan. 7, 2023, the suspension will come to an end two years after it began.
Following a barrage of criticism for being confused about how and why it handles international leaders differently, Facebook said that it would no longer provide politicians special exemptions from its content regulations.
Following Trump’s suspension, Facebook will regard foreign leaders’ political statements with less favour.
A lawsuit filed by Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter challenges a Trump-inspired Florida law that prohibits conservatives from being “censored.”
The Facebook Oversight Board – a quasi-independent panel of experts funded by Facebook – ruled that suspending Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts was the right move, but that an indefinite suspension was not appropriate, and that the company should review the matter within six months, potentially allowing Trump to return.
“We considered the need for it to be long enough to allow a safe length of time following the acts of incitement, significant enough to discourage Mr. Trump and others from committing such severe breaches in the future, and appropriate to the gravity of the violation itself,” Facebook stated.
Following the Capitol incident, Trump was removed off the country’s biggest social media networks, cutting him off from his fans. To contact supporters, he has depended on a patchwork of press releases and personal letters, as well as television interviews, emails, and robocalls. Due to limited reading, he shut down his blog “From the Desk of Donald J. Trump” this week.
Facebook also promised new “enforcement mechanisms” for unusual circumstances such as Trump’s.
“Given the seriousness of the circumstances that led to Mr. Trump’s suspension, we believe his conduct constituted a serious violation of our rules that warranted the most severe punishment allowed under the new enforcement protocols,” Facebook said.
Facebook’s Oversight Board declined to comment until it had a chance to evaluate the company’s answer, according to a statement.
Facebook acknowledged that the decision would be roundly attacked by conservatives and liberals alike when it announced that Trump may rejoin his millions of followers in two years. For years, the right has claimed that mainstream social media corporations suppress their speech. Trump had been temporarily banned from Twitter and Snapchat, and the left had agitated for him to be permanently removed.
“Many people believe it was inappropriate for a private corporation like Facebook to suspend an outgoing President from its site, and others believe Mr. Trump should have been instantly banned for life,” Facebook added. “Our objective is to make a decision in the most proportionate, fair, and transparent manner feasible, in accordance with the Oversight Board’s instructions.”
If “the risk of harm surpasses the public interest,” Facebook said it would erase content from world leaders.
“We allow certain newsworthy or essential to the public interest content to remain on our platform – even if it would otherwise violate our Community Standards,” Facebook explained. “We may also limit other enforcement consequences, such as demotions, where it is in the public interest to do so.”
However, Facebook stated that in the future, when determining the newsworthiness of content, it will not treat content posted by politicians any differently than content posted by any other user, “measuring whether the content’s public interest value outweighs the potential risk of harm by leaving it up.”
When international leaders broke the social media company’s content moderation policies, their speech was considerably less likely to be censored or removed.