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Facebook suspends Trump until 2023, shifts rules for world leaders

Stock MarketsJun 05, 2021 01:31AM ET
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2/2 © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, Florida, U.S. February 28, 2021. REUTERS/Octavio Jones/File Photo 2/2

By Elizabeth Culliford

(Reuters) - Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) on Friday suspended former U.S. President Donald Trump until at least January 2023 and announced changes to how it will treat world leaders who break the rules on its site.

Facebook had suspended Trump's account the day after the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol Hill riot, determining he had incited violence. That suspension will last at least two years from the date of the initial block and would only be lifted if the risk to public safety has receded, Facebook said on Friday.

Trump criticized the decision as a form of censorship and an insult to his voters.

This new timeline denies Republican Trump a major social media megaphone ahead of the November 2022 congressional elections. However, it means he may be able to return to Facebook well before the next presidential election in late 2024.

Trump has been permanently banned by Twitter and remains suspended by Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOGL)'s YouTube after the riot. Trump, who this week shut down his recently-launched blog, has teased plans to start his own platform.

"Given the gravity of the circumstances that led to Mr. 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's head of global affairs Nick Clegg said in the post.

Facebook's oversight board, an independent group funded by the company who rule on a small slice of controversial content decisions, in May upheld the company's unprecedented block on Trump. However, the board ruled it was wrong to make the ban indefinite and called for a "proportionate response."

In a statement on Friday, Trump slammed the decision and repeated false claims of voter fraud: "Facebook's ruling is an insult to the record-setting 75M people, plus many others, who voted for us in the 2020 Rigged Presidential Election. They shouldn’t be allowed to get away with this censoring and silencing, and ultimately, we will win. Our Country can’t take this abuse anymore!" Several investigations have not found evidence of election fraud.

Trump added, "Next time I'm in the White House there will be no more dinners, at his request, with Mark Zuckerberg and his wife. It will be all business!"

Facebook said it would work with experts to decide when the public safety risk had subsided for Trump to be restored to its platforms. It said it would evaluate factors including instances of violence, restrictions on peaceful assembly and other markers of civil unrest.

It also said there would be a set of escalating sanctions that would be triggered if Trump broke further rules that could lead to his permanent removal.

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki, speaking to reporters, said of Facebook's decision on Trump that it felt "pretty unlikely that the zebra is going to change his stripes over the next two years, we'll see."

POLICY CHANGES

Social media companies have grappled in recent years with how to handle world leaders and politicians who violate their guidelines.

On Friday, the Nigerian government said it had indefinitely suspended Twitter's activities in the country, two days after the company removed a post from President Muhammadu Buhari that threatened to punish regional secessionists.

In a major reversal that also came as part of Facebook's Friday responses to its oversight board, Facebook said it was "removing the presumption we announced in 2019 that speech from politicians is inherently of public interest."

The company said it now would weigh violative content from politicians against the potential risk of harm in the same way it does for all users. It will also disclose when it does use its "newsworthiness" exemption.

However, a Facebook spokesman confirmed politicians' posts will remain exempt from third-party fact-checking.

Facebook has come under fire from those who think it should abandon its hands-off approach to political speech, but has also been criticized by those, including Republican lawmakers and some free-expression advocates, who saw the Trump ban as a disturbing act of censorship.

Its decision on Trump and new policy changes could have major ramifications for how Facebook handles rule-breaking world leaders and officials on its services. It said that public figures who violate its rules by inciting or celebrating ongoing violence or civil unrest could be restricted for periods ranging from one month to two years.

Social media companies have faced calls from some rights groups and activists to be more consistent in their approach to other leaders who have violated or pushed their rules. Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and lawmakers in India's ruling party have drawn scrutiny.

Facebook also gave some transparency into its standard system on how many "strikes" users can receive before suspensions, which normally last up to 30 days.

The Trump case has been seen as a test for how the company responded to the ruling and recommendations of its recently-established oversight board.

The board also recommended Facebook review its role in the election fraud conspiracy that led to the Jan. 6 siege, which Facebook said it would partially implement through its partnership with academics studying the role it played in the 2020 U.S. elections. Facebook said it was implementing 15 of the 19 board recommendations.

(This story was refiled to remove extraneous word "Leader" in paragraph 20.)

Facebook suspends Trump until 2023, shifts rules for world leaders
 

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Comments (26)
danny Levine
danny Levine Jun 05, 2021 7:00AM ET
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these media bullies only silence voices they don't like. they didn't ban Maxine Waters for inciting violence. they didn't ban BLM antifa either. but how dare you post something questioning the election integrity!
Joel Hauser
Joel Hauser Jun 05, 2021 4:56AM ET
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Not a fan of orange gooba but most of these social medias have grown stronger than poor countries and are being used by the american intelligence as a propaganda machine.We should learn from china on how they messup the monopolies who start abusing.
Oil Bear
Oil Bear Jun 05, 2021 3:40AM ET
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Trump needs to start his own social platform to compete with Facebook, a good name to suggest is Assbook
John Tan
John Tan Jun 05, 2021 3:10AM ET
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The end of freedom of speech. Your speech which is not accepted (or different) by the majority would be slienced by these social media with their own interests in mind.
Irvin Mermelstein
Irvin Mermelstein Jun 05, 2021 1:47AM ET
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How about we suspend him until 2083? If he dies in prison first, the suspension is permanent.
YouTube Account
YouTube Account Jun 05, 2021 1:35AM ET
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They way you know they haven't lifted the eviction moratorium is the way Trump continues to live rent free in the minds of so many people.
Benjamin McIntire
Benjamin McIntire Jun 05, 2021 12:22AM ET
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Trump simps upset at capitalists and want to use authoritarian measures to “correct” the decision is the height of irony.
Dave Jones
Dave Jones Jun 05, 2021 12:22AM ET
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orange man bad don't you know?
Special Forces
Special Forces Jun 04, 2021 7:36PM ET
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Trump needs to start Two-Face-book platform for his rants...
Nuno Cova
Nuno Cova Jun 04, 2021 7:21PM ET
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Censorship, not suspension. Facebook and in general big tech, are the SS of the globalists.
Frank Taylor
Frank Taylor Jun 04, 2021 6:24PM ET
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and so begins "1984", censorship, alteration of uncomfortable history and ultimately burning of books, as they are not as easily disposed of as digital content.
Dave Jones
Dave Jones Jun 04, 2021 6:24PM ET
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Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength. War is peace!
Rad Chad
FeeFiFoFum Jun 04, 2021 6:03PM ET
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Thats a non event. FB was a pathetic piece of narcissist trash long before trump ever got elected
Rodrigo Chavez
Rodrigo Chavez Jun 04, 2021 5:03PM ET
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lmao!!! mango man is bannnnnned
Meru Pet
Meru Pet Jun 04, 2021 3:24PM ET
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what is Facebook, again ?
wasloslolkiyekA wasloslolkiyekA
wasloslolkiyekA wasloslolkiyekA Jun 04, 2021 3:19PM ET
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Cancel big tech; they despise you and your will. If Trump ever went back to them it would be disgraceful. He/we should have dumped them 4 years ago. Die FB, go away.
Rodrigo Chavez
Rodrigo Chavez Jun 04, 2021 3:19PM ET
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lmao imagine basing your opinions on the Cheeto in the white house
Mase Gumbo
Mase Gumbo Jun 04, 2021 3:19PM ET
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he/we should go cry in a corner :)
bella sharp
bella sharp Jun 04, 2021 3:07PM ET
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Censorship of political opponents, trying to interfere with elections/recounts and reduce voting security/integrity, and promotion division of the population through identity politics... leftists/democrats really are going all in on turning the US into a third-world socialist/communist country.
Tom Lemon
Tom Lemon Jun 04, 2021 3:07PM ET
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trump and the GOP are the only ones trying to take away the right to vote. glad trump is blocked on FB. i may buy more shares.
David Odhiambo
David Odhiambo Jun 04, 2021 2:57PM ET
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yeah banning is not bad ,but it is not the way to curb media libel and defamation
Joseph Lewis
Joseph Lewis Jun 04, 2021 2:57PM ET
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banning is a great method to silence people used by dictators and tyrants, just look at china and north korea...they use the same methods as the biden administration
David Odhiambo
David Odhiambo Jun 04, 2021 2:57PM ET
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yes ,I agree with you ,other methods can also be included ,just to reinforce that
Joseph Lewis
Joseph Lewis Jun 04, 2021 2:57PM ET
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Lol I do not even know anybody who still uses facebook, muchless anybody who will be using it in 3 years... that being said, this just shows that the democrats are incredibly scared about the news coming out regarding the recounts, the mid terms, and trump running again in 2024. who cares whether they keep him blocked, it just keeps his base on his side, since wrongful censorship was a large part of his platform that won him the elections.
Jon Andis
Jon Andis Jun 04, 2021 2:57PM ET
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Facebook will be MySpace in 3 years.
Jon Andis
Jon Andis Jun 04, 2021 2:57PM ET
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you wish bro. just like you out your faith in the fraud fauci and it's now coming out you're going to be disappointed again. you people jump to conclusions before facts have come to light. can't wait to see your 😭
Will Back
Will Back Jun 04, 2021 2:51PM ET
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Only two
danny Levine
danny Levine Jun 04, 2021 2:22PM ET
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more and more countries will ban fb. mark my words
Tony Coll
Tony Coll Jun 04, 2021 1:53PM ET
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Just long enough to interfere with the 2022 congressional elections...
Jason Moreira
Rolln Jun 04, 2021 1:23PM ET
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Why not for life? Why is it even being discussed?
Eric Ng
Eric Ng Jun 04, 2021 1:23PM ET
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Are you from North Korea?
Meru Pet
Meru Pet Jun 04, 2021 1:23PM ET
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they expect to ban him again, 6 months before the next election
Tom Lemon
Tom Lemon Jun 04, 2021 1:23PM ET
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Eric Ng trump's buddy... kim
Red Riley
Red Riley Jun 04, 2021 1:06PM ET
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communists
Special Forces
Special Forces Jun 04, 2021 1:03PM ET
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Insurrectionists will be angrier than they normally are, and the agencies POI lists will continue to grow...
Joseph Armour
Joseph Armour Jun 04, 2021 12:48PM ET
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Boycott Facebook for Anti-Democracy practices. Send Zuckerberg back to North Korea where he belongs.
Jo Pa
Jo Pa Jun 04, 2021 12:43PM ET
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free speech a thing of the past!
Tom Lemon
Tom Lemon Jun 04, 2021 12:43PM ET
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private companies can write their own rules... duh
Tom Lemon
Tom Lemon Jun 04, 2021 12:43PM ET
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stop voting republican. they are trying to make the USA a fascist country.
 
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