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Recap: Following the January 6 insurrection, Facebook suspended Trump's accounts on all their platforms to prevent him from inciting further violence. Facebook’s independent Oversight Board later approved the suspension but said that it needed to be defined in finite terms, prompting Facebook to write new enforcement protocols that dictate a maximum suspension term of two years. Trump’s suspension will now be reconsidered on January 7, 2023.
"At the end of this period, we will look to experts to assess whether the risk to public safety has receded," writes Nick Clegg, VP of Facebook Global Affairs. "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."
When Trump’s suspension is lifted, "a strict set of rapidly escalating sanctions" will be ready to be applied if he violates Facebook’s Community Standards again. His permanent removal is possible.
Moving forward, Facebook will be more precise with the penalties they apply to politicians. Violations of their Community Standards will be met with suspensions of increasing duration, from one month up to two years. In some cases, the reach of a post or account can also be limited.
Facebook will continue to grant newsworthiness exceptions to important but controversial posts, but will no longer give politicians preferential treatment when deciding if a post is newsworthy.
They promise to "remove content if the risk of harm outweighs the public interest" irrespective of its author. They’ll also start labeling posts that have been granted newsworthiness exceptions as such.
Facebook acknowledges that their new protocols will cause controversy, now and in every instance they’re enacted. They continue to advocate for "frameworks agreed upon by democratically accountable lawmakers," but in lieu of such a solution, they’re willing to continue regulating their courts of public opinion themselves.
Image credit: Barefoot Communications