According to the latest news, Facebook has extended former President Donald Trump’s indefinite ban into a two-year suspension which will eventually end on 7th January 2023.
As per the recent developments, after this time period, Facebook will reevaluate Trump’s ban to “assess whether the risk to public safety has receded”. This was announced yesterday by none other than Facebook’s vice president of global affairs, Nick Clegg himself. He further said, if Trump is reinstated and violates Facebook’s rules again, Facebook will implement a “strict set of rapidly escalating sanctions” which could lead to a permanent ban.
It seems Facebook treating “newsworthy” posts breaking its rules and speech by politicians more seriously. Facebook said that it will still allow some violating content that is “newsworthy or important to the public interest”. Yesterday, The Verge reported that Facebook will begin publishing the “rare instances” only when the newsworthy exemption is applied. This means in the future, politicians will be subject to the same content rules as other users. This is a sharp reversal from Facebook’s previous policy that mostly shielded elected officials.
Nick Clegg wrote in a blog post, “When we assess content for newsworthiness, we will not treat content posted by politicians any differently from content posted by anyone else. Instead, we will simply apply our newsworthiness balancing test in the same way to all content, measuring whether the public interest value of the content outweighs the potential risk of harm by leaving it up.”
In simple words, previously, Facebook executives maintained that private companies shouldn’t intervene in speeches from politicians as they are inherently in the public interest with some exceptional cases. However, politicians like Donald Trump misused this liberty to spread hate so Facebook decided to penalize politicians like any other user under Facebook’s new content rules. However, by opening up politicians to potentially harsher moderation, the company could anger governments. It is to be noted that some governments already started threatening tech companies for censoring political speech.
Yesterday, in a statement to The Verge, Trump called Facebook’s ruling “an insult” to his supporters who have voted in favor of him in the “rigged” presidential election. He also said, Facebook “shouldn’t be allowed to get away with this censoring and silencing.”
It is worth noting that Facebook didn’t ban Trump straight away. It did so in response to a request from the Oversight Board which is a group of human rights experts that the company funds to make judgments on controversial content decisions.