Former US President Donald Trump’s accounts on Facebook and Instagram will be suspended for a two-year period until 2023. This announcement comes after the independent Facebook Oversight Board upheld the company’s suspension of Trump’s accounts last month. The Board noted that Facebook needed to reassess how it moderates the speech of political leaders, clearly outline those rules for the public and determine how long is appropriate for these users to be suspended.
Trump criticized the two platforms’ decision, calling it an insult to his voters and falsely claiming that the 2020 presidential election was rigged. “They shouldn’t be allowed to get away with this censoring and silencing, and ultimately, we will win,” he said in an official statement. “Our country can’t take this abuse anymore!”
The social media platform, on January 7, had indefinitely froze Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg cited the risk of ongoing violence if the then-president were allowed to remain on the services. Microblogging platform, Twitter had banned Trump “permanently” on January 8 for the same reasons – violence at the US Capitol on January 6.
Nick Clegg, VP of Global Affairs, wrote in a blog post that Facebook “will not treat content posted by politicians any differently from content posted by anyone else” in determining whether its “newsworthiness” outweighs potential harm. Clegg said the platform’s two-year sanction against the former President for “severe violations” was deemed 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 Trump and others from committing such severe violations in future, and to be proportionate to the gravity of violation itself.
“Given the gravity of circumstances that led to 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 January 7 this year,” the executive said. “Once the two-year period is up, in January 2023, we will look to experts to assess whether the risk to public safety has receded in deciding whether to reinstate Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts. 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 reevaluate until that risk has receded.”