News World US ‘Risk to public safety’: Facebook extends Donald Trump ban to two years

‘Risk to public safety’: Facebook extends Donald Trump ban to two years

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Mr Trump's lawyers say a probe into his business is a "thinly-veiled effort to publicly malign" him. Photo: Getty
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Facebook said it will suspend former US president Donald Trump’s accounts for two years after judging that he stoked violence ahead of the deadly US Capitol riots on January 6.

“At the end of this period, we will look to experts to assess whether the risk to public safety has receded,” said Nick Clegg, Facebook’s vice president of global affairs, wrote in a blog post on Friday.

“We will evaluate external factors, including instances of violence, restrictions on peaceful assembly and other markers of civil unrest,”

On Facebook, Mr Trump’s suspension has meant that his account is essentially in “Facebook jail,” where others can read and comment on past posts but Mr Trump and other account handlers are unable to post new material.

Facebook also plans to end a contentious policy championed by CEO Mark Zuckerberg that automatically exempted politicians from rules that banned hate speech and abuse.

Photo: Getty

The company has said it has never applied this policy to Mr Trump.

The social media giant said on Friday that while it will still apply this “newsworthiness” exemption to certain posts it deems to be in the public interest even if they violate Facebook rules, it will no longer treat material posted by politicians any differently from that posted by anyone else.

In addition, Facebook said it will make public whenever it does apply the exemption to a post.

The announcements are in response to recommendations from the company’s quasi-independent oversight board.

Last month that panel upheld a decision by Facebook to suspend Mr Trump but said the company could not merely suspend him “indefinitely” and gave it six months to decide what to do with his accounts.

Facebook has had a general “newsworthiness exemption” since 2016.

But it garnered attention in 2019 when Clegg, a former UK deputy prime minister, announced that speech from politicians will be treated as “newsworthy content that should, as a general rule, be seen and heard”.

The newsworthiness exemption, he explained in a blog post at the time, meant that if “someone makes a statement or shares a post which breaks our community standards we will still allow it on our platform if we believe the public interest in seeing it outweighs the risk of harm”.