Facebook sticks with Trump suspension for now, sets future decision date

(The Center Square) – Facebook announced Wednesday that the social media company would keep in place its suspension on former President Donald Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts.

The decision came after Facebook’s oversight committee ruled that the company did the right thing by suspending the president’s accounts earlier this year. Facebook locked the former president out of his account after the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol related to questions over the integrity of the November election. Twitter also banned the former president. Many Republicans criticized the decisions, saying Big Tech companies were censoring conservative speech.

“Given the seriousness of the violations and the ongoing risk of violence, Facebook was justified in suspending Mr. Trump’s accounts on January 6 and extending that suspension on January 7,” the board said.

The oversight board said that while suspending Trump’s account was warranted, they took issue with the indefinite time period, calling it “indeterminate and standardless penalty.”

“Facebook’s normal penalties include removing the violating content, imposing a time-bound period of suspension, or permanently disabling the page and account,” the board said. “Within six months of this decision, Facebook must reexamine the arbitrary penalty it imposed on January 7 and decide the appropriate penalty. This penalty must be based on the gravity of the violation and the prospect of future harm. It must also be consistent with Facebook’s rules for severe violations, which must, in turn, be clear, necessary and proportionate.”

Trump responded to the decision with a statement on his Save America website.

“What Facebook, Twitter, and Google have done is a total disgrace and an embarrassment to our Country,” the statement reads. “Free Speech has been taken away from the President of the United States because the Radical Left Lunatics are afraid of the truth, but the truth will come out anyway, bigger and stronger than ever before. The People of our Country will not stand for it! These corrupt social media companies must pay a political price, and must never again be allowed to destroy and decimate our Electoral Process.”

Facebook launched the oversight board to review its decisions in October of last year after questions and criticisms that its standards for suspension and removal are unclear and selectively enforced.

“We will now consider the board’s decision and determine an action that is clear and proportionate. In the meantime, Mr. Trump’s accounts remain suspended,” said Nick Clegg, vice president of Global Affairs and Communications for Facebook. “The board also made a number of recommendations on how we should improve our policies. While these recommendations are not binding, we actively sought the board’s views on our policies around political figures and will carefully review its recommendations.”

Trump’s last Facebook post called on protesters to remain peaceful, but critics said his previous rhetoric inflamed the rioters.

“I am asking for everyone at the U.S. Capitol to remain peaceful,” Trump wrote in his last Facebook post on Jan. 6. “No violence! Remember, WE are the Party of Law & Order – respect the Law and our great men and women in Blue. Thank you!”

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