US President Donald Trump reacts as he takes his seat during an event to commemorate the 75th … [+]
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Facebook’s board of directors upheld the company’s decision to ban President Trump from its platform following the January 6 riot, but criticized the decision to call the suspension “indefinite”.
The board of directors says Trump used violent Facebook rules when communicating with protesters through the platform, but Facebook should have been clearer in the diameters of the ban on the ban. The board is now asking Facebook to precisely define whether the ban is permanent within six months. It could open up the possibility that Facebook will allow the president to return to the platform, although he will remain banned from the platform for the time being. Observers had hoped the board’s decision would bring the matter to a close.
Trump was booted from Facebook following the January 6 riots and subjected to similar expulsions from the other major social media sites including Twitter, Snapchat and YouTube. The decisions took away the president’s megaphone and one of his preferred methods of communicating with his grassroots. Trump had over 100 million followers on social media before being disappointed.
Facebook’s governing body decision is seen as a litmus test for other social media networks to decide whether to abide by their permanent bans on the president if he elects to run again in 2024 and how to treat other politicians and world leaders use their platforms. Trump’s support had condemned the Facebook ban as unfair censorship.
Facebook asked its board of directors, an independent organization founded last year, to review its decision to send Trump into exile in late January. His decision on Trump is the Chamber’s first prominent verdict. Critics of Facebook have feared the company will fail to deliver on its promise to view the board’s decisions as binding.
Facebook has an eventful past with surveillance content on its platform. For many years, CEO Mark Zuckerberg largely opposed this, but in the lead-up to the 2020 election, Facebook took a number of steps to curb some types of misinformation by adding fact-checking labels and reducing the frequency of some content among users’ Feeds and launch of prominent pages with verified information on key topics such as voting.
However, in June 2020, Facebook left a post from Trump that appeared to be promoting violence against protesters attending rallies on Black Lives Matter. (“When the looting stars start the shooting,” the president wrote.) Trump used Facebook year-round to spread misinformation about the pandemic and the presidential election result. These measures are similar to those he has taken since entering politics. The breaking point only came when he used Facebook on January 6 to communicate with the mob in the capital, which resulted in his indefinite suspension.
“We believe that the risk that the president can continue to use our service during this time is simply too great,” Zuckerberg said in a post on Facebook in which the ban was first announced.
Trump’s departure from social media strangely silenced the president and removed the daily presence of many Americans. Trump had vowed to start his own social media site but so far has only launched one website that has a feed of his comments, messages designed just like he posted on Twitter and Facebook but not from the digital framework that allowed the President’s comments to reach a wide range.