On January 7, Facebook suspended former-President Donald Trump’s Facebook account due to fears that allowing it to be active could lead to further provocations of violence following the Capitol Hill riots. Now, the highest court in Facebook-land wants to know what you think about the decision.
Facebook’s Oversight Board is a group of “independent” adjudicators that Facebook pays to make “independent” decisions about controversial moderation decisions made by Facebook. This week, the group finally got moving and issued judgements in five cases that weren’t exactly making headlines. But the Trump case is now before the committee, and it announced on Friday that it’s accepting public comments on the case.
Here’s what the defendant, Donald Trump, is accused of:
On January 6, 2021, Congress was gathered at the US Capitol Building in Washington D.C. to certify the results of the 2020 presidential election. Earlier that day, then US President Donald Trump attended a rally near the White House in Washington D.C., where he spoke of the need to “fight like hell” and stated, “we’re going to the Capitol”. Many of those attending the rally then marched on the US Capitol Building. In the ensuing riots, which led to five deaths, two pieces of content were posted on President Trump’s Facebook Page, which has 35 million followers. The first of these was also posted on his Instagram account, which has 24 million followers.
Post 1: As rioters were still present in the Capitol and backup law enforcement personnel were en route, President Trump posted a one-minute video to Facebook and Instagram with the following content: “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.”
Post 2: As police were securing the Capitol, President 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!”
Facebook removed the first post for violating its Community Standard on Dangerous Individuals and Organisations under its policy prohibiting praise, support, and representation of events that Facebook designates as “violating.” Facebook removed the second post under the same Standard, but has not yet clarified the specific aspect of the policy that it applied.
Do you think Trump deserves another chance? Did he go too far? Was this a long time coming? Would it be funny to watch Facebook deal with Trump in the future or the worst thing that could happen to society? All rise and tell the court how you feel.