June 4 (UPI) — Facebook announced Friday that its ban on former President Donald Trump’s account will last for almost another two years, following his suspension in the wake of the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.
The social platform extended the ban, which includes Instagram, until at least January 2023. At that time, the account will be re-evaluated.
Facebook said the decision was a response to the Facebook Oversight Board’s criticism of the open-ended nature of his initial ban.
The company indefinitely banned Trump from Facebook and Instagram after he used the platforms to repeat his claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen. It said his praise for the participants in the riot — his followers who were attempting to interfere with Congress’ certification of President Joe Biden’s Electoral College win — “constituted a severe violation of our rules.”
The Oversight Board, an international body of 20 experts that reviews the platform’s weightier access decisions, said in May it wasn’t “appropriate” for Facebook to impose an “indeterminate” ban.
“We are grateful that the Oversight Board acknowledged that our original decision to suspend Mr. Trump was right and necessary, in the exceptional circumstances at the time,” Nick Clegg, Facebook’s vice president of Global Affairs, said Friday. “But we absolutely accept that we did not have enforcement protocols in place adequate to respond to such unusual events.
“Now that we have them, we hope and expect they will only be applicable in the rarest circumstances.”
Under a new policy announced Friday, public figures who break Facebook’s rules during times of civil unrest will be issued bans ranging from one month to two years based on the severity of the offense. After the initial ban is over, including Trump’s, the company will evaluate whether “the risk to public safety has receded,” and will determine whether to reinstate the offending account.
“In establishing the two year sanction for severe violations, we considered the need for it to be long enough to allow a safe period of time after the acts of incitement, to be significant enough to be a deterrent to Mr. Trump and others from committing such severe violations in future, and to be proportionate to the gravity of the violation itself,” Clegg said.
“When the suspension is eventually lifted, there will be a strict set of rapidly escalating sanctions that will be triggered if Mr. Trump commits further violations in future, up to and including permanent removal of his pages and accounts.”
Twitter and YouTube also banned Trump in the wake of the Jan. 6 attack — with Twitter’s being permanent — which prompted the former president to launch a new website in May to host his public statements. He ended the blog less than a month later.
Trump used Twitter more than any other platform and had nearly 90 million followers.