UPDATED: 3:47 p.m. ET, June 4, 2021 —
Facebook broke the head-scratching news on Friday that it will suspend Donald Trump‘s accounts until early 2023, citing that it was punishment for his insistence in stoking the fires that led to a deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol earlier this year.
The timeline is in response to the platform’s Oversight Board announcing t it would determine a specific amount of time for Trump’s ban. In response to the Facebook news, Trump released two absurd statements on Friday.
“Facebook’s ruling is an insult to the record-setting 75m people, plus many others, who voted for us,” he said in a statement issued from his Save America political action committee,
“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!”
The latter declared he will not invite Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to any friend-oriented White House dinners, confirming he believes the White House is within his grasp for a second time.
However, the most pressing point out of all of this is that the deadline of Jan. 2023, forges a path for Trump to use the platform to spread more lies and hateful rhetoric. It also could serve as one of the mediums he will resort to, disseminating his twisted ideals in the event he decides to run for election in 2024. As scary as that possibility may seem, Trump has teased the decision before and currently still refuses to accept the results of the election are final.
Earlier this week New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman tweeted Trump believes that a series of state election audits will reinstate will help reinstate him to the White House in August. Haberman’s tweet was later confirmed in a report by the National Review.
In addition to the ban timeline, Facebook also released it will enact stricter policies for public figures during times of violence and civil unrest, and will no longer exempt them from penalties regarding hate speech and abuse.
Earlier this year the world breathed a sigh of relief after Trump was banned from numerous social media platforms, beginning with Twitter, followed by Facebook and YouTube.
The last straw resulted from Trump’s consistent violent language which eventually helped steer action towards the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
On Wednesday Facebook’s 20-member Oversight Board ruled that the social networking app was justified in indefinitely banning the former president, but would need to put parameters on how long the ban would take place, according to The Washington Post. In six months Facebook will be required to complete a review on the length of the suspension.
“Given the seriousness of the violations and the ongoing risk of violence, Facebook was justified in suspending Mr. Trump’s accounts on January 6 and extending that suspension on January 7,” the board said in its decision.
The board also noted that Trump “created an environment where a serious risk of violence was possible” by encouraging people who disagreed with the electoral process to take action. Leaders also signaled that Facebook took action outside of its normal parameters in terms of how global leaders or leaders in power are reprimanded on the social network. The network exempts political figures from some hate speech rules on the grounds that the comments could be considered newsworthy.
Historically in these situations, Facebook has removed posts, specified the amount of time towards a suspension, or has permanently disabled an account altogether.
But several civil rights leaders argue that Facebook should take a definitive stance around Trump having access to a communication tool that he has used to promote violence and chaos. Leaders argued that Facebook’s decision could also set precedence for other platforms Trump is currently banned from using.
“If Trump is allowed back on the platform, he will once again have access to his bully pulpit to stoke the flames of white nationalism and incite violence against Black communities and our allies,” Color of Change President Rashad Robinson said in a statement sent to NewsOne. “Tech behemoths like Facebook cannot be trusted to self-regulate. Facebook has failed in this regard numerous times and will continue enabling white nationalists to use the platform to organize, spread lies, and wage violence against Black people until the business model no longer incentivizes hate for profit. This decision is yet another demonstration of the urgent need for Congress and the Biden-Harris administration to create new rules of the road to reign in Facebook’s stronghold on our democracy. Color Of Change will continue to leverage our millions of members to hold Facebook accountable and demand they permanently ban Trump from the platform.”
“Crucially, the decision doesn’t solve any of the fundamental problems with Facebook’s disastrous handling of hateful and violent speech on their platform,” Amnesty International said. “The Oversight Board’s decisions only apply to specific cases – and while it can offer recommendations, it lacks the power to change Facebook’s overall approach to such content, particularly its inconsistent application of its Terms of Service globally.”
“In their decision today, the Facebook Oversight Board made many of the same errors that Facebook makes in its own enforcement decisions,” said David Brody, who leads the Digital Justice Initiative at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “It did not evaluate the full context of the case and it used legal technicalities to avoid answering hard questions. For example, it failed to address Trump’s repeated use of Facebook to inflame hate and racism, or his long history of spreading divisive lies and disinformation prior to the 2020 election. Over-reliance on formalist schools of legal analysis entrenches dominant power structures by turning a blind eye to the big picture.”
Other civil rights groups believed the decision was a step in the right direction.
“We are encouraged by the decision of the Oversight Board to temporarily uphold the platform’s previous suspension,” the NAACP Legal Defense Fund said in a statement. “We also believe that the evidence supports the permanent ban of Mr. Trump. He has demonstrated that he is unwilling and unable to use the platform consistent with Facebook’s Community Standards. Just a few days ago, Mr. Trump reiterated the same false claims about the 2020 presidential election that incited the January 6 insurrection. We hope that after the reexamination called for by the Oversight Board, Facebook will continue its permanent ban of Mr. Trump.”
Since Trump was void of his preferred tool, he released a statement to the press condemning the board’s decision.
“Free Speech has been taken away from the President of the United States because the Radical Left Lunatics are afraid of the truth, but the truth will come out anyway, bigger and stronger than ever before,” Trump’s statement reads. ”The People of our Country will not stand for it! These corrupt social media companies must pay a political price, and must never again be allowed to destroy and decimate our Electoral Process.”