Trump calls Facebook's two-year ban an insult to American voters
On Friday, Facebook decided to suspend former US President Donald Trump's accounts on Facebook as well as Instagram for two years. The suspension will be counted from its actual enforcement which took place on January 7 this year and will continue until 2023. Meanwhile, Trump reacted by deeming the Facebook suspension as "an insult" to the US citizens who had voted for him.
Facebook also announced it will no longer ignore politicians and world leaders breaking its mercurial and inconsistently applied guidelines. It confirmed rescinding policies granting them immunity from some content moderation. It also promised to disclose if and when it does use this exemption in the future. However, a Facebook spokesman confirmed to The Verge that politicians would still be exempt from third-party fact checking.
"Given the gravity of the circumstances that led to Mr. Trump's suspension, we believe his actions constituted a severe violation of our rules which merit the highest penalty available under the new enforcement protocols," said Nick Clegg, Facebook's Head of Global Affairs through the post.
Facebook upholding the suspension for two years effectively prevents Trump from using the platform's massive reach to campaign for the November 2022 midterm elections for Congressional seats, including 34 of the 100 Senate seats which will be up for grabs. That also means he should have enough time to use the platform to reach out to his constituents ahead of the 2024 presidential election.
However, there is no guarantee the suspension will be lifted in 2023. That won't happen unless Facebook decides Trump isn't a risk to public safety. In a stark contrast, Democrat politician Maxine Waters faced no consequences for inciting rioters to "get more confrontational" during the George Floyd riots that claimed 19 lives.
Facebook will consult with unspecified experts to re-evaluate Trump's suspension in 2023, so the ban will most likely be extended to prevent him from campaigning for the 2024 presidential elections. Evidently, Trump didn't take kindly to Facebook's decision. The former president issued a statement decrying the "2020 Rigged Presidential Election," while calling Facebook's censorship an insult to 75 million Americans who voted for him.
"Facebook's ruling is 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," responded Trump.
Earlier in May, a Facebook funded, quasi-independent board had upheld Trump's suspension from all its platforms. But while doing so, it had recommended Facebook to take a concrete decision on the matter. This two-year ban announcement is a conclusion of that saga. That said, even as it gave a specific duration to the ban, Facebook still has left backdoors to extend it further.