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Facebook to uphold Trump ban until January 2023

The social media giant will review whether Trump should be allowed to return two years after he was initially banned.

Image: PA Images

FACEBOOK HAS SAID that it will uphold its ban on former US President Donald Trump from using the platform for two more years, and he will only be allowed to return if “conditions permit”.

Last month, Facebook’s independent Oversight Board said that it upheld the tech giant’s decision to suspend Trump, but it criticised the open-ended nature of the suspension, calling it an “indeterminate and standardless penalty”.

Trump was blocked from posting on the social networking site in January over comments which were deemed to have encouraged rioters who took over the US Capitol on 6 January.

Facebook’s Vice President of Global Affairs and Communications Nick Clegg said in a statement today Trump’s actions “constituted a severe violation of our rules which merit the highest penalty available under the new enforcement protocols”.

Trump is now banned from the platform until 7 January 2023, two years from the date he was initially suspended.

Facebook’s new enforcement protocols enable it to restrict “public figures” for one month, six months, one year or two years if they violate the site’s rules “during times of civil unrest and ongoing violence”.

“In establishing the two year sanction for severe violations, we considered the need for it to be long enough to allow a safe period of time after the acts of incitement, to be significant enough to be a deterrent to Mr Trump and others from committing such severe violations in future, and to be proportionate to the gravity of the violation itself”, Clegg said.

“At the end of this period, we will look to experts to assess whether the risk to public safety has receded”, he added. “We will evaluate external factors, including instances of violence, restrictions on peaceful assembly and other markers of civil unrest.”

The restriction may be extended if Facebook still feels that Trump poses a serious risk to public safety.

“When the suspension is eventually lifted,” Clegg said, “there will be a strict set of rapidly escalating sanctions that will be triggered if Mr Trump commits further violations in future, up to and including permanent removal of his pages and accounts.

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“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.”

Facebook’s initial ban on Trump followed several years of concerns that the former president used social media to spread misinformation and incite hatred against certain groups or nations, with his Facebook page frequently in the top 10 most shared posts on the platform.

On 7 January, the night after the Capitol riots in Washington DC, Facebook banned Trump from posting on Facebook for 24 hours – becoming the second social media firm, after Twitter, to block the president from doing so.

The decision followed a long period of Facebook allowing Trump’s posts to remain online, despite violating its policies, because his comments were seen as newsworthy.

The site has a “newsworthiness allowance”, where content that otherwise violates its Community Standards can remain on the platform if it is deemed to be newsworthy or important to the public interest.

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