(WJW/AP) — After it was announced he will remain banned from Facebook for now, former President Donald Trump issued a statement saying “what Facebook, Twitter, and Google have done is a total disgrace and an embarrassment to our Country.”
Four months after Facebook suspended Trump’s accounts for inciting violence that led to the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riot, the company’s quasi-independent oversight board upheld the bans on Wednesday.
But it told Facebook to specify how long they would last, saying that its “indefinite” ban on the former president was unreasonable. The ruling, which gives Facebook six months to comply, effectively postpones any possible Trump reinstatement and puts the onus for that decision squarely back on the company.
The board ruled that Facebook was correct to suspend Trump’s account four months ago for inciting violence that led to the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riot. But it said the company erred by applying a vague penalty and then passing the question of whether to ban Trump permanently to the board.
“Indefinite penalties of this sort do not pass the international smell test,” oversight board co-chair Michael McConnell said in a conference call with reporters. “We are not cops, reigning over the realm of social media.”
Trump released the following statement after the announcement:
“What Facebook, Twitter, and Google have done is a total disgrace and an embarrassment to our Country. Free Speech has been taken away from the President of the United States because the Radical Left Lunatics are afraid of the truth, but the truth will come out anyway, bigger and stronger than ever before. The People of our Country will not stand for it! These corrupt social media companies must pay a political price, and must never again be allowed to destroy and decimate our Electoral Process.”
The board agreed with Facebook that that two of Trump’s Jan. 6 posts “severely violated” the content standards of both Facebook and Instagram. “We love you. You’re very special,” he said to the rioters in the first post. In the second, he called them “great patriots” and told them to “remember this day forever.”
Those violated Facebook’s rules against praising or supporting people engaged in violence, the board said, warranting the suspension. Specifically, the board cited Facebook’s rules against “dangerous individuals and organizations,” which prohibit anyone who proclaims a violent mission and bans posts that express support or praise of these people or groups.
But it insisted that the company needed to take responsibility for its decision.
“Facebook should either permanently disable Trump’s account or impose a suspension for a specific period of time,” said board co-chair Helle Thorning-Schmidt, a former Danish prime minister.
The board said that if Facebook decides to restore Trump’s accounts, it must be able to promptly address further violations. Among other recommendations, it advised against drawing a firm distinction between political leaders and other influential users because anyone with a big audience can potentially cause serious risks of harm.