An image of former President Donald Trump and the Facebook logo on a mobile in Arlington, Virginia.OLIVIER DOULIERY / AFP
Facebook's independent supervisory board ruled on Wednesday in favor of keeping former US President Donald Trump's account suspended. In a statement released this morning, the panel recommended that the company founded by Mark Zuckerber review the decision in six more months. Facebook, like Twitter, suspended the Republican leader's account after the assault on the Capitol on January 6 by a mob of his followers. The platform found that two publications by the former president violated company rules by supporting those who participated in the riots, in which five people died.
The panel found that two of Trump's posts "seriously violated" the rules of Facebook and Instagram. First, a video in which he told those who were attacking the Capitol: “We love you. You are very special ”and the second, where he described the attackers as“ great patriots ”and that they would“ remember this day forever ”. Facebook rules forbid praising or supporting people involved in violence. The council determined that the Republican, by maintaining an unfounded narrative of electoral fraud and persistent calls to action, created an environment in which "a serious risk of violence" was possible.
Zuckerberg has explained that suspending Trump's account indefinitely was important to reduce the risk of violence in the run-up to the inauguration of Democrat Joe Biden. The Republican sought "to undermine the peaceful and legal transition of power to his elected successor," argued the founder of the tech giant. The measure unleashed a wave of criticism among his followers, and misgivings in general, as it raises the debate about where freedom of expression ends and incitement to violence begins. Facebook now has 30 days to publicly respond to the council's decision.
“Some said that Facebook should have vetoed President Trump long ago and that the violence on Capitol Hill was itself a product of social media; others that it was an unacceptable display of irresponsible corporate power over political speech, ”Nick Clegg, Facebook's vice president of global affairs, wrote in January. Trump had more than 35 million followers on this platform, more than 24 million on Instagram and about 88 million on Twitter. “As president, Trump had a high level of influence [on January 6]. The scope of their publications was great ”, determined the supervisory panel.
Among the Twitter messages that led to his account being blocked, rhetoric about electoral fraud was repeated. “The ballot boxes will be stolen, ballots will be falsified and even illegally printed and fraudulently signed” or “[Vice President] Mike Pence did not have the courage to do what had to be done to protect our country and our Constitution” to comply with the certification protocol for Joe Biden as president on January 6 on Capitol Hill.
Facebook decided that an independent oversight council made up of 20 members, including lawyers, human rights defenders and journalists, would be in charge of making the decision whether to reestablish the former president's Facebook and Instagram accounts or not. Zuckerberg's company created this council, unique among social media companies, in 2019 to make recommendations on what policies to adopt in controversial situations. Cases can be submitted by the platform or by its users.
Trump made social media - notably Twitter, where his account was permanently suspended - his main speaker during his two presidential campaigns and also in his four years in the White House.
This Tuesday the ex-president launched a website to communicate with his followers: donaldjtrump.com.
In the 30-second promotional video, he presents the platform as “a beacon of freedom” in a “time of silence and lies” to “speak freely and safely”.
The Republican continues to shake off the unfounded specter of electoral fraud in the elections that saw Biden as the winner.
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