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Facebook has suspended former U.S. President Donald Trump, on Facebook and Instagram platforms for two years effective from January 7.
Facebook, in a statement by Nick Clegg, Vice-President of Global Affairs, cited “severe violation” after Capitol Hill riots of January 6 and that Trump’s accounts would only be reinstated if conditions permitted.
“Last month, the Oversight Board upheld Facebook’s suspension of former U.S. President Donald Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts following his praise for people engaged in violence at the Capitol on January 6.
“But in doing so, the board criticised the open-ended nature of the suspension, stating that “it was not appropriate for Facebook to impose the indeterminate and standardless penalty of indefinite suspension”.”
“The board instructed us to review the decision and respond in a way that is clear and proportionate, and made a number of recommendations on how to improve our policies and processes,” it said.
“We are today announcing new enforcement protocols to be applied in exceptional cases such as this, and we are confirming that the time-bound penalty is consistent with those protocols which we are applying to Mr Trump’s accounts.”
Given the gravity of the circumstances that led to 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, Facebook stated.
“We are suspending his accounts for two years, effective from the date of the initial suspension on January 7 this year.
“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.”
Facebook stated that if the Oversight Board determined that there was still a serious risk to public safety, Facebook would extend the restriction for a certain period of time and continue to re-evaluate until that risk had receded.
When the suspension is eventually lifted, there will be a strict set of rapidly escalating sanctions that will be triggered if Trump commits further violations in future, up to and including permanent removal of his pages and accounts, it added.
“In establishing the two-year sanction for severe violations, we considered the need for it to be long enough to allow a safe period of time after the acts of incitement, to be significant enough to be a deterrent to Mr Trump and others from committing such severe violations in future and to be proportionate to the gravity of the violation itself.
“We are grateful that the Oversight Board acknowledged that our original decision to suspend Trump was right and necessary, in the exceptional circumstances at the time.
“But we absolutely accept that we did not have enforcement protocols in place adequate to respond to such unusual events. Now that we have them, we hope and expect they will only be applicable in the rarest circumstances.”