On Friday, Facebook announced that former President Donald Trump would be suspended from their platforms for two years, and would only be reinstated if certain conditions were met.
In a blog post, vice president of Global Affairs, Nick Clegg, responded to Facebook’s Oversight Board and their criticism of the “open-ended nature of the suspension,” having said that “it was not appropriate for Facebook to impose the indeterminate and standardless penalty of indefinite suspension.”
“We are today announcing new enforcement protocols to be applied in exceptional cases such as this, and we are confirming the time-bound penalty consistent with those protocols which we are applying to Mr. Trump’s accounts,” wrote Clegg. “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. We are suspending his accounts for two years, effective from the date of the initial suspension on January 7 this year.”
Clegg then explained that once this period is complete, on January 7, 2023, “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,” Clegg added.
A former U.K. politician, Clegg then warned that, if Trump’s suspension is ever lifted, “there will be a strict set of rapidly escalating sanctions that will be triggered” if there are further violations committed in the future, “up to and including permanent removal of his pages and accounts.”
He explained the two-year suspension, saying “we considered the need for it to be long enough to allow a safe period of time after the acts of incitement, to be significant enough to be a deterrent to Mr. Trump and others from committing such severe violations in future, and to be proportionate to the gravity of the violation itself.”
Later in his statement, Clegg claimed that Facebook’s job is “to make a decision in as proportionate, fair and transparent a way as possible, in keeping with the instruction given to us by the Oversight Board.”
Clegg concluded by celebrating the Oversight Board as a “check on Facebook’s power.”
“The Oversight Board’s decision is accountability in action,” Clegg said. “It is a significant check on Facebook’s power, and an authoritative way of publicly holding the company to account for its decisions. It was established as an independent body to make binding judgments on some of the most difficult content decisions Facebook makes, and to offer recommendations on how we can improve our policies.”
“As today’s announcements demonstrate,” added Clegg, “we take its recommendations seriously and they can have a significant impact on the composition and enforcement of Facebook’s policies.”
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