Facebook's oversight board on Wednesday decided to uphold the company's indefinite suspension of former president Donald Trump, claiming that "Trump’s posts during the Capitol riot severely violated Facebook’s rules and encouraged and legitimized violence."
The Board also found Facebook violated its own rules by imposing a suspension that was ‘indefinite.’ This penalty is not described in Facebook’s content policies. It has no clear criteria and gives Facebook total discretion on when to impose or lift it.— Oversight Board (@OversightBoard) May 5, 2021
"Mr. Trump created an environment where a serious risk of violence was possible," the oversight board continues, adding that "At the time of Mr. Trump’s posts, there was a clear, immediate risk of harm and his words of support for those involved in the riots legitimized their violent actions. As president, Mr. Trump had a high level of influence."
"Given the seriousness of the violations and the ongoing risk of violence, Facebook was justified in suspending Mr. Trump’s accounts on January 6 and extending that suspension on January 7."
The Board's decision is accompanied by 'evidence' in the Trump case which catalogues the former president's actions leading up to the January 6th 'insurrection' at the Capitol.
Elections are a crucial part of democracy. On January 6, 2021, during the counting of the 2020 electoral votes, a mob forcibly entered the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. This violence threatened the constitutional process. Five people died and many more were injured during the violence. During these events, then-President Donald Trump posted two pieces of content.
At 4:21 pm Eastern Standard Time, as the riot continued, Mr. Trump posted a video on Facebook and Instagram:
I know your pain. I know you’re hurt. We had an election that was stolen from us. It was a landslide election, and everyone knows it, especially the other side, but you have to go home now. We have to have peace. We have to have law and order. We have to respect our great people in law and order. We don’t want anybody hurt. It’s a very tough period of time. There’s never been a time like this where such a thing happened, where they could take it away from all of us, from me, from you, from our country. This was a fraudulent election, but we can't play into the hands of these people. We have to have peace. So go home. We love you. You're very special. You've seen what happens. You see the way others are treated that are so bad and so evil. I know how you feel. But go home and go home in peace.
At 5:41 pm Eastern Standard Time, Facebook removed this post for violating its Community Standard on Dangerous Individuals and Organizations.
At 6:07 pm Eastern Standard Time, as police were securing the Capitol, Mr. Trump posted a written statement on Facebook:
These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly unfairly treated for so long. Go home with love in peace. Remember this day forever!
At 6:15 pm Eastern Standard Time, Facebook removed this post for violating its Community Standard on Dangerous Individuals and Organizations. It also blocked Mr. Trump from posting on Facebook or Instagram for 24 hours.
On January 7, after further reviewing Mr. Trump’s posts, his recent communications off Facebook, and additional information about the severity of the violence at the Capitol, Facebook extended the block “indefinitely and for at least the next two weeks until the peaceful transition of power is complete.”
The Board also said that Facebook must review the decision, which also applies to Instagram, within six months. Trump has nearly 60 million followers across both platforms. What's more, "Facebook violated its own rules by imposing a suspension that was ‘indefinite.’" because "This penalty is not described in Facebook’s content policies."
The decision comes one day after Trump announced a new 'platform' called 'From the desk of Donald J. Trump,' which allows him to post comments, images and videos.
The site allows users to like or share posts on their own Facebook or Twitter accounts, but they cannot reply. People can also "sign up for alerts" delivered via email.
The tool is funded by Trump's Save America and Make America Great Again political action committees.
"President Trump’s website is a great resource to find his latest statements and highlights from his first term in office, but this is not a new social media platform," wrote senior Trump adviser Jason Miller, adding "We’ll have additional information coming on that front in the very near future."
🚨President Trump’s website is a great resource to find his latest statements and highlights from his first term in office, but this is not a new social media platform. We’ll have additional information coming on that front in the very near future.🚨 https://t.co/m9ymmHofmI— Jason Miller (@JasonMillerinDC) May 4, 2021