“We are suspending his accounts for two years, effective from the date of the initial suspension on January 7 this year,” Nick Clegg, vice president of global affairs for Facebook, said in a blog post.
Facebook’s Oversight Board, a quasi-independent entity that is empowered to overrule the social media platform, upheld Facebook’s suspension of Trump last month. But it also said the California-based company inappropriately didn’t list a defined time period for which Trump was suspended.
“It is not permissible for Facebook to keep a user off the platform for an undefined period, with no criteria for when or whether the account will be restored,” the board said.
The June 4 announcement was in response to the board’s decision, Clegg said.
“We are today announcing new enforcement protocols to be applied in exceptional cases such as this, and we are confirming the time-bound penalty consistent with those protocols which we are applying to Mr. Trump’s accounts. 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,” he said.
When two years elapse, Facebook plans to review with experts whether the “risk to public safety has receded.”
If the risk is still present, the suspension will be extended. If it isn’t, the company is setting in place “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,” Clegg said.
Trump said in a two-sentence statement that Facebook’s decision “is an insult to the record-setting 75 [million] 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,” he said.
Facebook originally suspended Trump on Jan. 7 in the wake of the breach of the U.S. Capitol by a crowd that included some of his supporters. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said allowing Trump to continue to post missives was risky.
Zuckerberg claimed Trump opted “to use his platform to condone rather than condemn the actions of his supporters at the Capitol building.”
Trump told protesters in one video to “go home peacefully,” while asserting the presidential election was rife with fraud. He also said that “we love you,” “you’re very special,” and that “I know your pain. I know you’re hurt.”
Earlier Jan. 6, Trump told a crowd on The Ellipse, approximately two miles from the Capitol, that people should go to the building, but do so “peacefully and patriotically.”
Trump has panned Facebook and other Big Tech companies, accusing them of uneven moderation standards. Internal video footage and other evidence support the accusations.
In a statement following the board’s decision in May, Trump said, “These corrupt social media companies must pay a political price, and must never again be allowed to destroy and decimate our Electoral Process.”
Republicans then reacted strongly, saying they wanted to break up such Big Tech, a set of companies that includes Facebook. The new decision prompted similar condemnation.
“Facebook continues to arbitrarily apply their rules and undermine fundamental American values like free speech. This is Big Tech’s latest betrayal of those values—all while allowing authoritarian leaders to post harmful content without any repercussions,” Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) said in a statement.
Another member of Congress called for such a lack of accountability regarding the social media company to change.
“Facebook is suspending former President Trump for two years, but continuing to allow CCP propaganda, Assad, and human smugglers to use their platform. That is utter hypocrisy. Facebook must be held accountable,” Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) said.
Jack Phillips contributed to this report.