Donald Trump banned from Facebook for at least two years

Former president will only get account back if ‘risk to public safety has receded’ in 2023

Graeme Massie
Los Angeles
Friday 04 June 2021 19:42
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Trump Facebook ban was justified, oversight board rules

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Donald Trump has been banned from Facebook for at least two years, the social media giant has announced.

The former president was indefinitely suspended from all Facebook platforms in the wake of the 6 January US Capitol riot, in which his supporters violently tried to prevent the certification of Joe Biden’s election win.

Now Mr Trump’s account will remain suspended until 7 January 2023, and Mark Zuckerberg’s company says he will only get it back if the “risk to public safety has receded.”

Facebook’s independent Oversight Board upheld the initial suspension of Mr Trump last month, but they criticised the company over the indefinite time period, which led Mr Zuckerberg to introduce the new rules.

“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. We are suspending his accounts for two years, effective from the date of the initial suspension on 7 January this year,” said Nick Clegg, Facebook’s VP of Global Affairs, on Friday.

“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.”

Facebook also announced that if Mr Trump is ever cleared to use Facebook products again he will face “a strict set of rapidly escalating sanctions” that would be applied if he broke user rules.

Mr Clegg said that these would include permanent removal of Mr Trump’s pages and accounts.

“In establishing the two year sanction for severe violations, 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,” he added.

And he recognised that the controversial move could face criticism from both Mr Trump’s supporters and his opponents.

“There are many people who believe it was not appropriate for a private company like Facebook to suspend an outgoing President from its platform, and many others who believe Mr Trump should have immediately been banned for life,” he said.

“We know today’s decision will be criticised by many people on opposing sides of the political divide — but our job is to make a decision in as proportionate, fair and transparent a way as possible, in keeping with the instruction given to us by the Oversight Board.”

The company’s Oversight Board, which is made up of media, legal and other experts, acknowledged the steps Facebook announced and said that it would carry out its own review before making further comment.

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