Facebook announced Friday that the ban it has imposed on President Trump from using the platform will last until at least two years from the Jan. 7 decision the company made to suspend his account.
Facebook banned Trump from the platform because of his posts that praised the violent, insurrectionist mob on the Capitol on Jan. 6. Last month, a board of outside experts Facebook tasked with reviewing that decision said Facebook was justified in suspending his account, but said that the platform needed to reconsider the move to ban him indefinitely. The board of experts also called on the company to develop more uniform standards for handling users of Trump’s stature who encourage violence.
Facebook announced Friday that it had developed those standards and concluded that, under them, Trump’s “actions constituted a severe violation of our rules which merit the highest penalty available under the new enforcement protocols,” i.e., a two-year suspension.
At the end of that two-year period, Facebook will examine the external circumstances whether there is a “still a serious risk to public safety” in reactivating Trump’s account, setting up the potential that the two-year ban could be extended.
“When the suspension is eventually lifted, 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,” Facebook said.
Facebook took action against Trump for posts he made in the hours after his supporters ransacked the Capitol with the hope of disrupting Congress’ certification of President Biden’s victory. In a video posted to Facebook on Jan. 6, Trump reiterated the false stolen election claims that motivated that mob and called the rioters “very special” even as he instructed them to go home. After Facebook took down that video, Trump posted a written statement praising the rioters as “great patriots.” “Remember this day forever!” he said in the post.
Facebook suspended his account in a move that at the time had no end date. Twitter also banned Trump from its platform.
While Trump’s Twitter habits attracted the most attention, his Facebook presence also gave him incredible reach and was a crucial tool for his presidential campaigns. Facebook’s decision Friday sets up the possibility that he will regain access to the platform just as he could be ramping up a 2024 run for the White House.
“We know that any penalty we apply — or choose not to apply — will be controversial,” Facebook said Friday. “There are many people who believe it was not appropriate for a private company like Facebook to suspend an outgoing President from its platform, and many others who believe Mr. Trump should have immediately been banned for life.”
Without Twitter or Facebook, Trump has struggled to amplify his message. This week, he abandoned a blog he set up less than a month ago because, according to the Washington Post, he was frustrated with the dismal readership.
Trump fumed about Facebook’s announcement in statements emailed out by his political organization, which is how he has done much of his communicating now that Facebook and Twitter are not at his finger tips.
The first statement called the suspension “an insult to the record-setting 75M people, plus many others, who voted for us in the 2020 Rigged Presidential Election.”
“They shouldn’t be allowed to get away with this censoring and silencing, and ultimately, we will win. Our Country can’t take this abuse anymore!” he said.
Another statement sent out about an hour later referenced a 2019 dinner Trump had with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
“Next time I’m in the White House there will be no more dinners, at his request, with Mark Zuckerberg and his wife. It will be all business!” Trump said.