Donald Trump cannot return to the Facebook network
So decided the Supervisory Board of the American giant, the "Supreme Court" responsible for settling the most sensitive conflicts of moderation.
Four months ago, the day after the storming of the Capitol by a crowd of its supporters, the platform suspended the personal accounts of the former US president, who then had 35 million subscribers on Facebook and 24 million of followers on Instagram. In a video posted on the network, Donald Trump expressed his support for the rioters. An explicit incitement to violence that violated its internal rules of the social network, Facebook explained. "
We believe that the risks of allowing the president to continue to use our services during this (transition) period are simply too great
" wrote Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, on his blog.
Trump's social media ban opens debate on the power of Gafa
This "ban" until further notice was the epilogue of a series of warnings about messages from Donald Trump deemed problematic (including disinformation on the electoral process, the use of a Nazi symbol, hate speech ...) that the platform had maintained.
Facebook's management then believed that even if the president broke the rules, his comments should remain available so the public could form their own opinion on his political comments.
A position highly criticized both externally and internally.
The power of a private company
Beyond the pro-Trump who were crying out for censorship, Facebook's decision had moved politicians of all stripes and associations defending freedoms, because of the power conferred on a private company to delete the personal account of a head of State, without further form of trial. In Europe, Chancellor Angela Merkel had expressed her unease about this decision. “
A lot of people aren't comfortable with the idea that tech companies have the power to ban heads of state. Many argue that a private company like Facebook shouldn't be making such decisions on its own. We agree with this observation
”, agreed Nick Clegg, head of public affairs at Facebook.
At the end of January, Facebook had decided to entrust its Supervisory Board with the task of definitively settling this case.
This sort of "supreme court" responsible for ruling on the network's most complex moderation decisions is funded by Facebook (up to $ 130 million), but its 20 members (journalists, technology experts, magistrate, researchers, NGOs ..) - which will eventually be 40 - are independent of the company.
Scope of the decision
Given the importance and the expected scope of its decision, and after having received 9,000 messages in its call for public contributions, the Supervisory Board had given itself time to mature its reflection.
Donald Trump also sent him a user statement with his arguments to challenge Facebook's first decision.
In addition to the specific case of Donald Trump, the decision of the Supervisory Board gives more general recommendations on how the platform should approach messages from state leaders breaking their rules.
The use of the network by Jair Bolsonaro (Brazil), Rodrigo Duterte (Philippines) or Ali Khamenei (Iran) poses a problem.
Other social networks have taken similar action regarding the US president after the Capitol invasion.
Twitter irrevocably suspended Donald Trump's 89 million subscriber account, while admitting that it set a "dangerous precedent."
Banning an account has real and significant consequences,
” founder Jack Dorsey said in a series of tweets after his decision.
For its part, YouTube, Google's video platform, said it would wait until “
the risk of violence decreases
” before allowing the former president to re-post videos on his channel.