Facebook Suspends Trump's Accounts For 2 Years; Former President Calls It An 'Insult'

Facebook Inc. FBannounced it's suspending former President Donald Trump’s participation on its platforms through Jan. 7, 2023, at which point it evaluate if the “risk to public safety has receded” enough to enable his return under specific restrictions.

What Happened: In a post on the company’s blog, Vice President of Global Affairs Nick Clegg acknowledged that although Facebook’s Oversight Board upheld Trump’s suspension based on his action surrounding the Jan. 6 riot on Capitol Hill, it nonetheless decried an open-ended 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 wrote. “We are suspending his accounts for two years, effective from the date of the initial suspension on January 7 this year.”

Clegg added that when the suspension period concludes, Facebook would either expand the suspension if it felt Trump’s return constituted a risk to public safety, or would allow him to resume his presence on its platforms under “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.”

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What's Next: Despite being banned from Facebook and Twitter TWTR, Trump continues to make his voice heard, with his first post-White House rally scheduled for Saturday in North Carolina. He also continues to be courted by Republican office-seekers – including, amazingly, George P. Bush, the son of former Trump rival Jeb Bush, who is seeking the Republican nomination for Texas attorney general.

Meanwhile, Facebook has increasingly been seen as wishy-washy in its policies, reversing a previous ban of postings that suggested the coronavirus was created in a laboratory in Wuhan, China, while rewriting a policy that protected politicians from having to obey the content moderation rules required of other users.

In his blog post, Clegg seemed to admit that the company is still somewhat fuzzy in applying its terms of service.

“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.

In a statement, Trump predictably derided the decision.

"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," he said. "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!"

(Photo by Gage Skidmore / Flickr Creative Commons.)

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