Washington, D.C. — Facebook suspended former President Donald Trump from its platforms on January 7, the day after he helped incite a deadly and dangerous attack on the U.S. Capitol—the culmination of months of incendiary, false statements about the 2020 election from the former president. Today, the Facebook Oversight Board announced that it would uphold Facebook’s decision to restrict Trump from both Facebook and Instagram. However, the board punted the final decision back to Facebook, writing that the company should, within the next six months, “reexamine the arbitrary penalty it imposed on January 7 and decide the appropriate penalty.”
Earlier this week, Adam Conner, vice president of Technology Policy at the Center for American Progress, wrote in an op-ed for NBC News in which he argued not only that the Facebook Oversight Board should “recommend the permanent and formal suspension of Trump, to which Facebook should acquiesce,” but also that Facebook “should move onto the necessary work of releasing a full set of data to the public about his platform activity, so that the American public can begin to understand the true scope of the damage he inflicted on our democracy using their platform.” Conner, a former Facebook employee, calculated that Trump posted to his personal Facebook and Twitter accounts more than 2,200 times between the election and the insurrection and used many of those posts to spread incendiary lies and misinformation about the election. Those posts received millions of interactions and reshares on Facebook alone.
Following the Oversight Board’s decision, Conner issued the below statement:
Today, the Facebook Oversight Board upheld Facebook’s decision to suspend President Trump from the platform. We are relieved to learn that he will, at least temporarily, no longer be allowed to spread lies about election fraud and incite violence, as he did on January 6 and the years that led up to it. In affirming this decision, the Oversight Board has taken a first step in preventing future Facebook-fueled tragedies, but it must continue to do everything in its power to stop hateful activities and disinformation targeting marginalized communities around the world. Facebook must now make the indefinite suspension a permanent disabling of the page and account, and it should do so immediately.
Beyond individual cases, Facebook’s systemic problems promoting hate speech, violent rhetoric, and misinformation persist. As the only legitimate form of democratic oversight, lawmakers should investigate and address these systemic problems to prevent future violence.
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