Donald Trump will finally get his chance to return to Facebook—after two years. But not after he passes an assessment to choose if he can have his accounts back.
The statement is the social network’s response to its Oversight Board. It has been deliberating on the Trump ban since January this year, after the ex-POTUS encouraged the Capitol riot.
After the incident, Facebook said Trump initiated and provoked the uprising using its platform.
The social network quickly cut off access to Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts. And the penalty has since remained.
Trump has pursued to regain access to his Facebook account, especially with his more than 32 million Facebook followers.
Then, Oversight Board gave Trump a chance to share his views on the ban, as part of its assessment.
Changes to penalties for suspensions
Now, Facebook has announced its response to the Oversight Board’s findings.
The social network will change its rules on political leaders, especially the content they will be sharing on the platform.
Facebook will apply well-defined penalties for suspensions. It includes incidents leading to social unrest.
“The [Oversight Board] criticized the open-ended nature of [Trump’s] 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,” explains Facebook.
This is a clear framework with mounting penalties of up to two years for the grave violations.
The Trump ban is in the most severe category. So, it will receive the maximum penalty—a ban of two years—starting January 7, 2021.
Still, Trump may not be allowed to post right after January 7th 2023.
“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. If we determine that there is still a serious risk to public safety, we will extend the restriction for a set period of time and continue to re-evaluate until that risk has receded,” adds Facebook.
Trump may return to Facebook in 2023 for the reelection campaign, if he decides to run. But Facebook may choose to extend the ban if the independent Oversight Board finds that he still poses a risk.
Trump’s response to Facebook’s ruling will not help with the assessment though.
Facebook has also established specific restrictions on what politicians and public figures can post on the platform.
Before these limitations, Facebook allowed some newsworthy content to remain on its platform, even if they violate its rules, in the interest of transparency and public debate.
“I don’t think it’s right for a private company to censor politicians or the news in a democracy. […] We don’t do this to help politicians, but because we think people should be able to see for themselves what politicians are saying,” explained Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in 2019.
Now, Facebook has reevaluated it.
“We grant our newsworthiness allowance to a small number of posts on our platform. Moving forward, we will begin publishing the rare instances when we apply it. Finally, when we assess content for newsworthiness, we will not treat content posted by politicians any differently from content posted by anyone else. Instead, we will simply apply our newsworthiness balancing test in the same way to all content, measuring whether the public interest value of the content outweighs the potential risk of harm by leaving it up,” says the social network.
Facebook notes it will be somewhat lenient under its newsworthy content rules. Yet, all users will face similar penalties and restrictions.