Facebook has banned former US president Donald Trump for two years citing “gravity of the circumstances” that led to his initial suspension in the aftermath of the January 6 insurrection by his supporters at US Capitol. Trump’s Facebook account will remain suspended till January 7, 2023.
Facebook had also suspended Trump’s Instagram account then.
“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,” Trump said in a statement repeating false claims the election was rigged. “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!”
Announcing the decision, Facebook’s vice-president of global affairs Nick Clegg said, “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 January 7 this year.”
Twitter, the other social media platform that Trump had used to great effect in projecting himself and his views, has terminated his account permanently.
Facebook’s oversight board, comprised of outside legal experts picked by the social media platform, had upheld the suspension of Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts but had criticised the open-ended nature of the punitive action saying, “it was not appropriate for Facebook to impose the indeterminate and standard-less penalty of indefinite suspension”.
A mob of Trump supporters had invaded the US Capitol on January 6 to prevent a joint session of Congress from certifying President Joe Biden’s election. Then vice-president Mike Pence, who was presiding over the session, had to flee to safety with lawmakers and returned after the complex was rid of the rioters and completed the certification process.
Trump was impeached for inciting the insurrection making him the only American president impeached twice; the first time was in 2019.
After January 2023, Facebook will ask 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,” Clegg said, adding, “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.”
Shut out by Facebook and Twitter, Trump has used his email to issue tweet-length press statements, sometimes many times a day, just as he would have been posting on the social media platforms, multiple times a day. But his reach remains severely curtailed.