Donald Trump calls Facebook’s actions a national ‘embarrassment’ after Oversight Boards upholds ban of the former president
Facebook’s Oversight Board said the social media company “cannot make up the rules as it goes, and anyone concerned about its power should be concerned about allowing this”
Facebook’s Oversight Board has determined that the social media giant must review the indefinite suspension of former President Donald Trump from Facebook’s platform, a review that could allow Trump back on Facebook later this year.
In the Wednesday morning announcement, the board — made up of around 20 international lawyers, scholars and activists — said Facebook was right to suspend Trump for his controversial post during the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riot, but that Facebook must “reassess” Trump’s indefinite suspension.
After the board’s decision was announced, Trump called the actions of tech companies Facebook, Twitter and Google a “disgrace and an embarrassment to our country.”
According to the decision, Facebook has six months from Wednesday to determine a new penalty for Trump, and “can either impose a time-limited suspension or delete the account.”
- “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,” the board’s decision reads.
- “A minority of the Board emphasized that Facebook should take steps to prevent the repetition of adverse human rights impacts and ensure that users who seek reinstatement after suspension recognize their wrongdoing and commit to observing the rules in the future. If the social media giant does allow the former president back on Facebook,” the board added.
Facebook cannot make up the rules as it goes, and anyone concerned about its power should be concerned about allowing this. Having clear rules that apply to all users and Facebook is essential for ensuring the company treats users fairly. This is what the Board stands for.— Oversight Board (@OversightBoard) May 5, 2021
In a string of messages posted to Twitter Wednesday morning, the board said that “Facebook cannot make up the rules as it goes, and anyone concerned about its power should be concerned about allowing this. Having clear rules that apply to all users and Facebook is essential for ensuring the company treats users fairly. This is what the Board stands for.”
- The board added on Twitter: “If a head of state or high government official repeatedly posts messages that pose a risk of harm under international human rights norms, the company (Facebook) should either suspend the account for a set period or delete it.”
Facebook ‘indefinitely’ suspended Trump after the deadly Capitol riot
The decision comes nearly four months after Facebook “indefinitely” suspended Trump’s account for a post made during the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
On the afternoon of the Capitol riot, Facebook said it was “searching for and removing” posts that praised or supported the storming of the Capitol, encouraged the deadly riot, called for more violence, and posts about new protests that would break a curfew in Washington, D.C.
That evening, Facebook said that it had suspended the president’s account for 24 hours. By the following morning, Jan. 7, Facebook had decided to ban Trump “indefinitely.”
- “We believe the risks of allowing President Trump to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great, so we are extending the block we have placed on his Facebook and Instagram accounts indefinitely and for at least the next two weeks,” said Guy Rosen and Monika Bickert — Facebook’s vice presidents of integrity and global policy development.
Trump responds, but not on Facebook or Twitter
After the board announced its decision Wednesday, the former president responded with a post published to his “From the Desk of Donald J. Trump” website. Trump uses the webpage to publish comments or statements that resemble those he’d have put on Twitter or Facebook in the past.
- “What Facebook, Twitter, and Google have done is a total disgrace and an embarrassment to our country,” Trump said.
- “These corrupt social media companies must pay a political price, and must never again be allowed to destroy and decimate our electoral process,” said the former president.
What did Trump post during the Jan. 6 Capitol riot?
Donald J. Trump’s Facebook account was suspended the day after the Capitol riot, but the page was not entirely taken down by Facebook.
As of May 4, Trump’s official Facebook page was still online and included 11 posts from Jan. 6, and about half of those posts included language from the president insisting, without evidence, that the 2020 presidential election had been fraudulent. Facebook marked those posts with a “Get Accurate Election Info” tag, which included text that read, “The US has laws, procedures, and established institutions to ensure the integrity of our elections.”
Facebook removed two of Trump’s posts from Jan. 6, saying at the time the posts violated their “community standards,” Deseret News reported.
Here’s the text of the Facebook post that Trump posted during the Capitol riot that Facebook then removed, according to Deseret News:
- “I know your pain, I know you’re hurt. We had an election that was stolen from us. It was a landslide election and everyone knows it, especially the other side. But you have to go home now. We have to have peace,” Trump said in a video.
- “These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long. Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!” the then-president wrote in a statement.
The board said Wednesday that these two posts “severely violated Facebook’s Community Standards and Instagram’s Community Guidelines.”
Former Trump administration Attorney General William Barr has said there was no evidence of election fraud during last fall’s presidential election and Trump’s own Department of Homeland Security “declared the 2020 election the most secure in history,” according to Vox.