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STATEMENT: CAP’s Adam Conner on Facebook Decision To Leave Door Open To Reinstate Trump on the Platform

Washington, D.C. — Facebook suspended former President Donald Trump from its platforms on January 7, 2021, 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. In May, the Facebook Oversight Board announced that it would uphold Facebook’s decision to restrict Trump from both Facebook and Instagram but 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.”

Today, Facebook announced that it will continue its suspension of former President Trump until at least early 2023, but it left the door open for his reinstatement on the platform “if conditions permit.” In response, Adam Conner, vice president for Technology Policy at the Center for American Progress, released the following statement:

Facebook continues to refuse to do the right thing and permanently ban former President Trump. Clear rules, as the Oversight Board requested, are essential. But the idea that a sitting president inciting a violent white supremacist insurrection is not a sufficiently clear violation to garner permanent removal is beyond comprehension. Facebook says that it will reinstate Trump’s account in 2023 if “the threat to public safety has receded,” but violent instances such as the January 6 insurrection make it clear that Facebook is complicit in the threat to public safety.

Earlier this year, Conner wrote 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 shares on Facebook alone.

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