The changes in responses to the Oversight Board could reshape how the company treats inflammatory political figures

Tear gas fired by police swirls above a pro-Trump mob storming the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 lớn try lớn foil Congress’s counting of the electoral college votes affirming Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)
Facebook said Friday that it plans khổng lồ suspkết thúc former president Donald Trump for two years following his comments inciting violence in the wake of the Capitol insurrection on Jan. 6.

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The social media giant will only reinstate hlặng “if the risk to public safety has receded,” according to a blog post on the company’s website.

Facebook’s new policy refers specifically khổng lồ the behavior of public figures during periods of heightened violence or unrest, according to the blog post. Facebook says it will now initiate a series of time-bound suspensions for violators, starting with a one-month suspension, & look khổng lồ experts lớn help reevaluate the situation at the end of each period.

The announcement, part of a set of responses to lớn the Facebook Oversight Board’s recommendations in May regarding its suspension of the former president, is likely to have major implications for how the platform treats controversial public figures going forward.

In ruling on whether the social network should reinstate Trump’s account on its service, the largely independent Facebook-funded Oversight Board said the social truyền thông media company was correct in suspending hyên in the moment but lacked a clear rationale for keeping hyên ổn off the platform indefinitely.

The company’s announcement Friday is an attempt lớn clarify Trump’s penalty and make the procedures of the powerful social network, which is used by 3.45 billion people globally on a monthly basis, appear less arbitrary và opaque lớn the public. It is also the first major demo of how a nongovernment watchdog might act as a kiểm tra on Facebook’s power.

“We know that any penalty we apply — or choose not to lớn apply — will be controversial,” said Nick Clegg, Facebook’s vice president of global affairs, in the post. “There are many people who believe sầu it was not appropriate for a private company like Facebook khổng lồ suspkết thúc an outgoing President from its platkhung, & many others who believe sầu Mr. Trump should have immediately been banned for life. We know today’s decision will be criticized by many people on opposing sides of the political divide — but our job is to lớn make a decision in as proportionate, fair và transparent a way as possible, in keeping with the instruction given lớn us by the Oversight Board.”


Trump said in an emailed statement the ruling was an insult lớn the people who voted for him last year. Facebook “shouldn’t be allowed to get away with this censoring and silencing, & ultimately, we will win,” he added. “Our Country can’t take this abuse anymore!”

Facebook on Friday fell short of saying it would comply with another board recommendation lớn publish a full public accounting of its role in fomenting the events that took place on Jan. 6. Instead, the company said it had created a partnership to lớn exchange data about what took place on the platkhung during the election with đôi mươi academic researchers, & would continue to cooperate with law enforcement. The researchers are planning khổng lồ make their findings public.

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The company also said it would no longer automatically give sầu politicians a pass when they break the company’s hate speech rules, a major reversal after years of criticism that it was too deferential lớn influential people during the Trump presidency.


Since the năm 2016 election, the company has applied a thử nghiệm to lớn political speech that weighs the newsworthiness of the nội dung against its propensity khổng lồ cause harm. Now the company will throw out the first part of the demo & will no longer consider newsworthiness as a factor.

But Facebook doesn’t plan to lớn over the newsworthiness exception entirely. In the cases where an exception is made, the company will now discthua kém it publicly — after years of such decisions being closely held. And it will also become more transparent about its strikes system for people who violate its rules.

Facebook’s Oversight Board upheld the ban on former president Donald Trump, a test case of social truyền thông companies’ power to moderate inflammatory speech. (Jonathan Baran/The Washington Post)

Soon after Jan. 6, Facebook turned its decision on Trump — which it said would be enforced indefinitely — over lớn the Oversight Board khổng lồ decide whether the company made the right Gọi.

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After four months of deliberations, the Oversight Board unexpectedly kicked the Trump decision baông chồng to the social network, giving it six months to lớn decide whether to lớn ban Trump permanently or reinstate him. It issued 19 recommendations, including that the company publish a report about its role in the Jan. 6 riot & make changes lớn its newsworthiness exception. Facebook plans to lớn full implement 15 of them.


Publicly, Facebook executives have deflected blame for the events at the Capitol onto lớn other companies. The Washington Post và others have sầu reported that rioters used Facebook lớn help organize.

The Post reported last year that the newsworthiness exemption was first created in response lớn Trump’s inflammatory remarks about Muslims during his candidacy. Since then, the company has maintained that it rarely used the exception và has only acknowledged using it six times. Those incidents were all outside the United States, and include political speech in Hungary, Vietnam giới and Italy.

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How Facebook wrote its rules for Trump

In practice, however, Facebook has appeared khổng lồ give politicians & political leaders a pass in many more instances. In 2019, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the company would not apply its fact-checking khổng lồ political ads, for example.

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And throughout his presidency, Trump repeatedly flooded the platkhung with misinformation. He promoted baseless claims of voter fraud và repeatedly stated without evidence that the 20đôi mươi election was stolen. Facebook chose to append a generic label to most of that content rather than ban it.

Even more so than the newsworthiness exception, the strikes system is another opaque area of Facebook’s policies và practices. Users can be censored or demoted after a certain number of strikes for breaking rules. But the company has said it does not want to lớn mô tả its policing strategies for fear that it will enable loopholes.

The result was what was criticized as an arbitrary system, however. People whose nội dung was removed often did not know what rule they had broken, and seemingly routine violators sometimes appeared khổng lồ be treated with kid gloves.

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Facebook’s response khổng lồ the Oversight Board is being watched as a key demo for the possibility of self-regulation by powerful social truyền thông companies. Facebook and other Silinhỏ Valley giants are facing a wave of potential new regulation over issues such as privacy và algorithmic transparency all over the world, as well as a major antitrust lawsuit in the United States.

If the Facebook-created board is viewed as a legitimate kiểm tra on the company’s power, experts have said it could become a Model for countries looking at ways to regulate how social media companies police nội dung on their platforms, or for other companies in a similar position. But it also could make the need for regulation seem less urgent because a solution already exists, they said.

Facebook’s Sandberg deflected blame for Capitol riot, but new evidence shows how platform played role

In 2018, Zuckerberg — under immense political pressure over the company’s nội dung moderation practices — presented the idea for an independent body that would oversee controversial decisions made by the social network. The idea was khổng lồ put a kiểm tra on the social network’s power, which was being roundly criticized by government officials, academics & the public over allowing the spread of Russian disinformation, inflammatory political discourse & hate speech.

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Facebook funded the Oversight Board through an independent trust and selects its members but has given it the power khổng lồ make binding decisions on nội dung that the board determines has been wrongly removed or kept up. The 20-member board also can issue voluntary policy recommendations. Members include a Nobel laureate, free-speech experts, và a former Danish prime minister.

Trump also has been suspended indefinitely from YouTube, the gaming platform Twitch, Snapchat & other platforms, và has been banned from Twitter over the same set of comments from Jan. 6.

Trump built one of the world’s most powerful and passionate online audiences during his tenure as president. But researchers have sầu shown that he has not been able to garner the same màn chơi of online attention since he was taken off mainstream platforms. He recently turned khổng lồ using his own trang web to put out statements, but his team shut it down this week.

The public is divided about whether Trump should be reinstated across social media, according khổng lồ the nonpartisan Pew Retìm kiếm Center. In April, Pew published a report finding that 50 percent of Americans think Trump should not be permanently banned while 49 percent believe in a permanent ban.

Gerrit De Vynông chồng and Heather Kelly contributed reporting.

Updated June 4, 2021

Facebook’s Oversight Board & Trump: What you need to know

The latest: Facebook ends political speech exception amid Oversight Board’s Trump recommendations

FAQ: What you need khổng lồ know about the Facebook Oversight Board’s decision on Trump’s account

Suspension: Facebook suspended Trump’s tài khoản the day after the Capitol insurrection

What is the oversight board? An independent Facebook-funded body toàn thân that has the power to lớn đánh giá — & potentially overturn — the company’s nội dung decisions

Bending the rules: How Facebook wrote its rules to lớn accommodate Trump

Labels: Facebook can remove sầu posts that incite violence & will affix labels on posts that violate hate speech or other policies

Opinion: Facebook just lost its greatest power

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