NEW YORK, 5 June 2021:
Facebook yesterday said it has decided to extend the suspension of former US president Donald Trump’s account until 7 Jan 2023.
“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,” Nick Clegg, Facebook’s vice president of global affairs, said in a statement.
Trump’s accounts on Facebook and Facebook-owned Instagram were suspended a day after this year’s Jan 6 storming of the US Capitol building by a large group of the then-president’s supporters who came to Washington for his “Stop the Steal” rally.
His barring from the platforms was in response to a video he posted on Facebook and Instagram telling the people who invaded the Capitol “we love you” and “you’re very special” and a subsequent post in which he called the rioters “patriots.”
“Of course, this penalty only applies to our services – Mr Trump is and will remain free to express himself publicly via other means. Our approach reflects the way we try to balance the values of free expression and safety on our services, for all users, as enshrined in our Community Standards,” Clegg said.
Facebook’s international Oversight Board said last month the suspension of Trump’s accounts was justified, but criticised the open-ended nature of the sanction and urged the company to specify precisely the duration of the ban on the ex-president.
“We are today announcing new enforcement protocols to be applied in exceptional cases such as this, and we are confirming the time-bound penalty consistent with those protocols which we are applying to Mr Trump’s accounts,” Clegg said.
The protocols provide for suspensions ranging from one month to two years.
“We know that any penalty we apply – or choose not to apply – will be controversial,” the former UK deputy prime minister acknowledged.
“We know today’s decision will be criticised by many people on opposing sides of the political divide – 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,” Clegg said.
The Jan 6 riot, which occurred during a joint session of the US Congress to certify then-president-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory, resulted in the deaths of five people, including a police officer who died a day later after suffering two strokes.
Trump denounced Facebook’s decision to continue the suspension “an insult to the record-setting 75m people, plus many others, who voted for us in the 2020 Rigged Presidential Election.”
The real estate mogul actually garnered 74.2 million votes, compared with 81.2 million for Biden, and has yet to offer any evidence that the balloting was rigged.
“They shouldn’t be allowed to get away with this censoring and silencing, and ultimately, we will win,” Trump said in a statement.