Facebook announced Friday that former President Donald Trump would remain banned on its platforms, including Instagram, through the 2022 midterms until January 2023.
The suspension was enacted following the Capitol riot early this year and joined by bans from Twitter, Snapchat, and others, while the outgoing president faced a second impeachment from Democrats on Capitol hill.
Nick Clegg, Facebook’s vice president of global affairs, said Trump’s presence on the company’s platforms “constituted a severe violation of our rules which merit the highest penalty available under the new enforcement protocols.”
“At the end of this period, we will look to experts to assess whether the risk to public safety has receded,” Clegg wrote in a statement, with Trump’s two-year suspension effective from the date he was ripped off the company’s platforms in January.
Facebook’s own oversight board gave rubber-stamped approval to the company’s decision last month to ban Trump, concluding the president “created an environment where a serious risk of violence was possible.”
The board’s decision, Federalist Political Editor John Daniel Davidson wrote at the time, “was as predictable as a Soviet show-trial,” given the company’s track record of inconsistent censorship almost always in one direction to the Democrats’ benefit.
Davidson highlighted Stanford Law Professor Pamela Karlan’s presence on the board, who testified in Trump’s first impeachment trial in December 2019, where she mocked the president’s then-14-year-old son Barron. Karlan apologized for the off-color remark later in her testimony, but her presence on the board raises questions over the group’s credibility as a quasi-independent oversight arm within the massive Silicon Valley company, which also employs its own so-called fact-checkers to justify egregious episodes of censorship.
In October, a company spokesman announced Facebook would suppress blockbuster reporting from the New York Post, implicating then-Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in his son’s potentially criminal overseas business ventures, pending review from company “fact-checkers.”
While I will intentionally not link to the New York Post, I want be clear that this story is eligible to be fact checked by Facebook's third-party fact checking partners. In the meantime, we are reducing its distribution on our platform.
— Andy Stone (@andymstone) October 14, 2020
To this day, Facebook has not revealed which fact-checkers reviewed the Post’s reporting in the most critical days of the 2020 election.
Mike Matthys, co-founder of the First and Fourteenth Institute, railed the company’s decision to keep Trump off the platform for another 18 months.
“Facebook’s decision shows two problems,” Matthys wrote in a statement, emphasizing Facebook’s double-standards of censorship. “First, as identified by the Facebook Oversight Board, Facebook has never published standards for enforcement actions such as a two year ban. Second, Facebook is not enforcing similar bans on other prominent users who exhort followers to riot in cities, attack the police, or our former president.”
Matthys continued: “Now that the election is over and certified, it is hard to see how former president Trump’s posts would be more dangerous than other inflammatory rhetoric that is so common from politicians of both parties.”