Facebook Vice President of Global Affairs Nick Clegg announced Friday that former President Donald Trump’s account would be suspended for a period of two years.
Trump wasted no time firing off a blistering response, in a statement that referred to the 2020 election as “rigged.”
“Facebook’s ruling is an insult to the record-setting 75M people, plus many others, who voted for us in the 2020 Rigged Presidential Election,” Trump responded. “They shouldn’t be allowed to get away with this censoring and silencing, and ultimately, we will win. Our Country can’t take this abuse anymore!”
Clegg cited the oversight board that upheld the suspension last month, but said it was “not appropriate for Facebook to impose the indeterminate and standardless penalty of indefinite suspension.”
“Given the gravity of the circumstances that led to Mr. 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,” Clegg said. “We are suspending his accounts for two years, effective from the date of the initial suspension on January 7 this year.”
That would mean that Trump’s Facebook and Instagram pages could be reactivated after Jan. 7, 2023.
In what appears to be moving the goalposts, Clegg explained Facebook took action against Trump “following his praise for people engaged in violence at the Capitol on January 6.”
The Big Tech giant said it would reevaluate Trump at the end of the two-year period before determining whether to reinstate him.
“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. If we determine that there is still a serious risk to public safety, we will extend the restriction for a set period of time and continue to re-evaluate until that risk has receded,” Clegg said.
Given what passes for “experts” these days, it may not be wise to place any bets on Trump being reinstated.
Clegg said that when the suspension “is eventually lifted, there will be a strict set of rapidly escalating sanctions that will be triggered if Mr. Trump commits further violations in future, up to and including permanent removal of his pages and accounts.”
The Facebook official made it clear that Trump was being used as an example for others.
“In establishing the two-year sanction for severe violations,” he said, “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.”
As for concerns about censorship on the social media platform, Clegg let it be known that there will be no let-up on controlling content. In doing so, he used an interesting term: “demotions.”
“We allow certain content that is newsworthy or important to the public interest to remain on our platform — even if it might otherwise violate our Community Standards,” he wrote. “We may also limit other enforcement consequences, such as demotions, when it is in the public interest to do so. When making these determinations, however, we will remove content if the risk of harm outweighs the public interest.”
Clegg also suggested that Facebook plans to treat posts by politicians in the same manner as content posted by other users.
“Finally, when we assess content for newsworthiness, we will not treat content posted by politicians any differently from content posted by anyone else,” he said. “Instead, we will simply apply our newsworthiness balancing test in the same way to all content, measuring whether the public interest value of the content outweighs the potential risk of harm by leaving it up.”
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