Trump’s 2-Year Facebook Suspension

June 7, 2021

…Facebook should not apply any kind of a special political importance rule, but should favor safety over political expression.

Stanford University law professor and co-chair of Facebook’s Oversight Board Michael McConnell on the Board’s recent recommendations.
  • Background: On May 5, Facebook's 20-person Oversight Board upheld Facebook's January 7, 2020 suspension of former Pres Trump over his posts about the Capitol Hill riot and election results. However, the Board also stated "it was not appropriate for Facebook to impose the indeterminate and standardless penalty of indefinite suspension" and ordered Facebook to re-examine the "arbitrary penalty" within six months. Accordingly, the Board called on Facebook to "review the decision and respond in a way that is clear and proportionate" and made recommendations on how to improve Facebook's policies when it comes to both restricting content and suspensions.
  • The Latest: On June 4, Facebook announced that in light of the Board's instructions, it will now implement new enforcement protocols and time-bound penalties. Facebook said that "given the gravity of the circumstances that led to Mr. Trump’s suspension," it deems his actions a "severe violation" of its rules and that severe violations warrant a two-year sanction. For that reason, Facebook announced the January 2, 2020 suspension will last for two years and that it will be only lifted if it determines (with advice from experts) that "the risk to public safety has receded." If it determines there is still a serious risk to public safety, it will impose another time-bound penalty.
  • Interesting To Note: Facebook said it will no longer "treat content posted by politicians any differently from content posted by anyone else." Previously, content posted by politicians were deemed "newsworthy" automatically. Going forward, all user content (regardless of the whether the author is a politician) be measured according to whether "the public interest value of the content outweighs the potential risk of harm by leaving it up."
  • Big Picture: As SmartHERNews reported last month, Facebook has nearly 3 billion users and Instagram (Facebook's company) has just over 1 billion users, making this entity larger than any nation on the planet. Decisions by Facebook and its Oversight Board raise big questions about how private companies have the ability to act as gatekeepers when it comes to information and misinformation shared via social media.

WATCH "Who Are The Gatekeepers?" Here

LISTEN / READ to interview with Michael McConnell, Stanford law professor and co-chair of Facebook's Oversight Board Here

READ more about Facebook's "approach to newsworthy content" Here

by Jenna Lee,