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Facebook has extended former President Donald Trump’s suspension by two years and says it will only reinstate him “if the threat to public safety subsides.”
Facebook says it is setting new rules for public figures in times of civil unrest and violence, “to be applied in exceptional cases like this”. Trump was sentenced to the maximum penalty under those rules “due to the gravity of the circumstances” that led to his suspension. Since the company closed its Facebook and Instagram accounts on January 7, it will remain suspended until at least January 7, 2023.
At this point, Nick Clegg, vice president of global affairs, said Facebook would consult experts and “assess external factors, including instances of violence, restrictions on peaceful assembly, and other signs of civil unrest.” statement.
“If we determine that there is still a significant public safety risk, we will extend the restriction for a set period of time and continue to reassess until that risk recedes,” Clegg said.
When Trump is allowed to return, he will be subject to a “strict set of rapidly escalating sanctions,” even a permanent ban, which will start if he continues to violate Facebook’s rules.
In an emailed statement, Trump said, mistaking the number of votes he received in the 2020 presidential election, Facebook’s decision “is an insult to the 75 million people, as well as many others, who voted for us.” (It was just over 74 million votes.) He also continued his baseless attacks on the legitimacy of the elections.
“They should not be allowed to get away with this censorship and silencing, and in the end, we will win. Our country can’t stand these abuses anymore!” He said.
Reversing Facebook’s long-standing approach to political discourse
The new rules being applied to Trump represent a sharp break from the hands-off approach to political rhetoric that Facebook has taken for years.
The social network has greatly pardoned politicians of its policies on allowed speech on its platform, with CEO Mark Zuckerberg arguing that political speech It has already been severely scrutinized. This position has drawn criticism from civil rights groups, Democratic lawmakers, political activists, and even employees of the company itself.
Now, Facebook is overhauling a major part of its approach and will no longer consider politicians’ posts to be “newsworthy” by default. This means that if politicians violate company rules that prohibit harmful speech, they will face the same consequences as any other user.
“We will simply apply the newsletter balancing test in the same way to all content, and measure whether the content’s public interest value outweighs the potential risk of harm by letting it go,” Clegg said.
This is a reflection of how Facebook has dealt with politicians since 2019, when Clegg He said The company believed that political discourse is “news content that, as a rule, should be seen and heard”.
However, Facebook does not completely eliminate the exemption. She said if it decides a politician’s post breaks the rules but is worthy of publication, it will be left on the site – but the company will reveal when it does.
The company also leaves out another controversial policy: It will continue to exempt political posts and paid advertising from fact-checking. Critics say this gives political leaders around the world free passage to lie and stir up partisan divisions.
Responding to the recommendations of the supervisory board
The policy changes were announced Friday in response to recommendations from Facebook’s Oversight Board, a panel of outside legal and human rights experts the company has met to review its most challenging content decisions.
Last month, the board of directors backed Facebook’s decision to suspend Trump, finding it violated its policies against applauding violence, but said the company needed to set clear rules for high profile users.
The board’s criticism of Facebook has been scathing. He. She Criticize The company, saying “the same rules should apply to all users of the platform.” She said Facebook should act more quickly when politicians, celebrities and other people with large audiences violate its policies, because their influence can cause significant harm.
The board of directors has taken a special goal to exempt the “merit news”, which has been set 2016. She said the company should do a better job of explaining the policy and when to apply it to “influential users,” including politicians.
Facebook said Friday that it applied this policy to Trump’s account once: in an August 2019 video from a rally, when Trump singled out a member of the crowd.
In its response to the board’s recommendations, Facebook said it would be more clear about how the rules apply to all users. She advertises her own system of “Blows” and penalties for accounts that violate the rules, and an explanation of how to review posts by notable “public figures”.
It also established a new policy for how it handles accounts of public figures “during civil unrest” – the rules it applies to Trump.
Since these accounts can have such a significant impact, if they violate the rules “in ways that incite or celebrate ongoing violent disorder or civil unrest,” they face a suspension of one to two years, compared to the standard penalty of 30 days.
Additionally, once they are allowed back into Facebook, these users will face “heavy penalties” including permanent bans.
Facebook said it was “committed to fully implementing” most of the board’s recommendations.
But it has not adhered to a suggestion that it is conducting a review of its role in contributing to the narrative of false election fraud that culminated in the events of January 6, and instead said it is cooperating with law enforcement and partnering with outside researchers for the study. The impact of its programs on the elections.
Editor’s note: Facebook is among NPR’s financial backers.