SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) – Facebook on Friday (June 4) set its ban on former US president Donald Trump for two years, saying he deserved the maximum punishment for violating platform rules over a deadly attack by his supporters on the US Capitol.
The two-year ban will be effective from Jan 7, when Trump was booted off the platform, and comes after Facebook’s independent oversight board said the indefinite ban should be reviewed.
“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,” Facebook vice-president of global affairs Nick Clegg said in a post.
Facebook also said it will no longer give politicians blanket immunity for deceptive or abusive content at the social network based on their comments being newsworthy.
At the end of Trump’s two-year ban, Facebook will enlist experts to assess whether his activity at the social network still threatens public safety, according to Clegg.
“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.
When Trump’s suspension is lifted, he will face strict sanctions that could rapidly escalate to permanent removal from the social network for rule-breaking, according to Clegg.
“We know today’s decision will be criticised by many people on opposing sides of the political divide,” Clegg said.
“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.”
Last month, the independent oversight board said Facebook was right to oust Trump for his comments regarding the deadly Jan 6 rampage at the US Capitol but that the platform should not have applied an “indeterminate and standardless penalty of indefinite suspension.”
Trump was suspended from Facebook and Instagram after posting a video during the attack by his fired-up supporters challenging his election loss, in which he told them: “We love you, you’re very special.”
The panel gave Facebook six months to justify why his ban should be permanent – putting the ball in company chief Mark Zuckerberg’s court and spotlighting weaknesses in the platform’s plan for self-regulation.
Zuckerberg has stressed his belief that private companies should not be the arbiters of truth when it comes to what people say.