Facebook bans Donald Trump for two years over storming of US Capitol
Facebook has banned Donald Trump for two years, it has announced, with the social media giant also saying it is scrapping immunity for politicians who post fake news or abuse.
The social media giant said on Friday that it would only allow Mr Trump back onto the network in 2023 if it deemed that he is no longer a “risk to public safety”.
Facebook also announced that it is overhauling its rules around free speech in response to the controversy caused by its initial decision over Mr Trump, who was banned from the platform indefinitely the day after his supporters stormed the US Capitol.
In a blog post released on Friday, Nick Clegg, the former deputy prime minister who is now Facebook’s head of public affairs, said the company had created a new “enforcement protocol” for “exceptional” breaches of its rules, which could result in a maxiuman ban of two years.
He said Mr Trump’s praise of the Capitol rioters “constituted a severe violation of our rules which merit the highest penalty available”, meaning he would serve his ban effective from the date of his suspension on Jan 7.
Sir Nick added: “At the end of this period, we will look to experts to assess whether the risk to public safety has receded. We will evaluate external factors, including instances of violence, restrictions on peaceful assembly and other markers of civil unrest.
“If we determine that there is still a serious risk to public safety, we will extend the restriction for a set period of time and continue to re-evaluate until that risk has receded.”
Videos shared across Mr Trump’s social accounts called those who stormed the Capitol “patriots” and said: “We love you.” The storming resulted in the deaths of five people.
Even if Mr Trump is allowed back onto Facebook he will then face a sliding scale of potential bans – up to being permanently barred again – if he breaches the platform’s speech rules.
Facebook’s ruling has come after it was criticised by its Oversight Board, an organisation funded by the company to scrutinise its decisions, for banning Mr Trump indefinitely without properly explaining its reasoning for the punishment.
Among the other changes the tech giant is ushering in is scrapping its policy of not removing posts from politicians for breaches that would see other users banned.
Facebook brought the immunity policy only two years ago, arguing that politicians’ posts were too “newsworthy” to delete and that it was not appropriate for the social media company to “referee political debates”.
From now on, it said politicians would no longer enjoy a blanket “newsworthiness” immunity from its rules but would have to follow the same rules as all other users.
The change means world leaders and MPs could have their posts taken down if they are considered to be misinformation or abuse.
Sir Nick said posts would still remain on the site if they are deemed to be “newsworthy”, even if they technically broke Facebook’s rules. However, these exemptions will be applied on a case-by-case basis and Facebook will publicise which posts qualified for the immunity.
“We will simply apply our newsworthiness balancing test in the same way to all content, measuring whether the public interest value of the content outweighs the potential risk of harm by leaving it up,” Sir Nick said.