“At the end of this period, we will look to experts to assess whether the risk to public safety has receded. We will evaluate external factors, including instances of violence, restrictions on peaceful assembly and other markers of civil unrest,” Nick Clegg, Facebook’s vice president of global affairs wrote in a blog post Friday.
Trump was booted off most major social media platforms on Jan. 6 after his supporters marched on the Capitol; he then told them that he “loved” them in the hours following the deadly riot. Trump had also spent months laying the groundwork for the uprising on social media, where he stoked baseless conspiracy theories that any election loss he suffered would be illegitimate.
Twitter permanently banned Trump after the riot, while Facebook initially suspended him for an indefinite length of time, citing the “risk of further incitement of violence.”
Facebook’s independent Oversight Board extended Trump’s suspension by six months in May. The board also declined to make a final ruling on whether to allow Trump back in the future, and left that decision to CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
Zuckerberg has long argued that politicians’ speech should not be policed, even when it is offensive, because of its newsworthiness.
The Oversight Board had recommended that Facebook revisit that policy, saying that newsworthiness should not take priority over preventing significant harm.
The social media giant said on Friday it will no longer give special treatment to politicians, although it will still apply this “newsworthiness” exemption to certain posts it deems to be in the public interest, even if they violate Facebook rules.
Facebook’s decision leaves Trump with few online outlets for his message, even as his supporters call for him to launch another presidential bid in 2024.
Trump launched a Twitter-like blog on his personal website last month, but he shut that blog down on Wednesday and has not signalled where he might pop up next.
The former president gave up on his blog because he didn’t like being mocked for its poor traffic numbers, the Washington Post reported.
Trump claimed that he is being censored in a widely-circulated press release on Friday, after the Facebook decision was announced.
“Facebook’s ruling is an insult to the record-setting 75 M people, plus many others, who voted for us in the 2020 Rigged Presidential Election,” Trump wrote. “They shouldn’t be allowed to get away with this censoring and silencing, and ultimately, we will win. Our Country can’t take this abuse anymore!”
Trump set a record with 74.2 million votes, the most ever for a losing presidential candidate. Joe Biden won the popular tally with 81.2 million votes. He also won the presidency with 74 more electoral college votes than Trump.
Trump’s legal team lost more than 60 court battles while failing to prove any of his claims of systemic voter fraud in the election.
— With files from Reuters and the Associated Press
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