This Friday, Facebook announced that Donald Trump will remain banned from its platforms at least until 2023. In January, Facebook dictated an unprecedented ban on Trump’s accounts after his influence on the January 6 Capitol Riots. For the very same reason, Twitter announced the permanent suspension of Trump’s account. Even before then, much debate has surrounded his and other politicians’ presence in social media and the role of decision-makers of said platforms in enabling unlawful, dishonest, or violent behaviors.
In Facebook’s statement by Nick Clegg, Facebook’s Vice-President of Global Affairs, the company announced that the Oversight Board had decided to uphold the ban on Trump’s accounts for at least two years.
The Oversight Board is an independent organization composed of experts and civic leaders and was founded to issue recommendations on Facebook’s content policies. The tagline on their website reads “Ensuring respect for free expression, through independent judgment. On January 21st, Facebook assigned this case to the Oversight Board, which means the decisions made are unable to be overruled by anyone at Facebook, including CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
“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,” said Clegg on Facebook’s official statement published on Friday.
“We believe our decision was necessary and right,” they firmly stated in a previous statement released in January and reinforced in their May statement.
The former president of the United States will be unable to access his Facebook and Instagram accounts at least until January 2023. After this period, the company will consult with experts to assess if the threat he posed to public safety has diminished.
The bans taken into effect by Facebook and Twitter will mean Trump’s outreach will be greatly reduced for the next years since both were the platforms where he got the most attention. In theory, he could potentially return to the platforms in time for the 2024 presidential election.
Additionally, besides Facebook’s and Twitter’s decision, Trump has been banned from other social media platforms, including YouTube, Snapchat, and Twitch.
As a response to Facebook’s declaration, Trump expressed that “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,” reinforcing his false accusation of fraud on the election won by Joe Biden last year, due to Trump’s refusal to accept defeat.
This latest statement has sparked a reaction from both sides on the United States political landscape. Trump’s Republican followers defend him and claim the company shouldn’t have extended the ban, while Trump’s opposition argues that the social media company should have established a permanent ban.