Facebook has said it will ban former US president Donald Trump from its platforms for two years, as part of a significant policy shift around how it treats content posted by politicians.
The move comes after Facebook’s Oversight Board last month criticised the company’s indefinite ban on Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts, which was instated following the Capitol Building riot in January.
The company said Trump’s remarks at the time constituted “a severe violation of our rules”.
Under the new policy, the company is to ban Trump for two years beginning on 7 January, the original date of the suspension.
After the two years have passed Facebook said it would review the situation and would reinstate Trump’s accounts only if it was safe to do so.
If and when the accounts are reinstated, the company said it would apply “a strict set of rapidly escalating sanctions” for future violations that could result in the permanent removal of his accounts.
“Given the gravity of the circumstances that led to Mr. Trump’s suspension, we believe his actions constituted a severe violation of our rules which merit the highest penalty available under the new enforcement protocols,” Facebook’s vice-president of global affairs Nick Clegg said in a statement.
Trump called the move an “insult” to the people who voted for him last year.
“Facebook’s ruling is an insult to the record-setting 75 million people, plus many others, who voted for us,” he said in a statement.
In May the Oversight Board upheld the ban on Trump, but criticised its indefinite duration.
Facebook said it would also strive to be more transparent about its policies around the removal of content, including content posted by politicians, as a response to other criticisms by the Oversight Board.
It is to publish the controversial system of “strikes” so that people know when they are violating policies and what actions the company may take in response.
The company is to provide more information about the “newsworthiness allowance” it uses to determine whether it is in the public interest to allow the publication of a post that otherwise violates its policies.
As part of this shift politicians will no longer be completely exempted from scrutiny, but instead will have the “newsworthiness allowance” applied to their posts just as with any other.
“We will simply apply our newsworthiness balancing test in the same way to all content, measuring whether the public interest value of the content outweighs the potential risk of harm by leaving it up,” Clegg stated.
The change in policy could alter the way politicians around the world use Facebook.
The company has, for instance, been criticised for allowing the publication of violent posts by politicians of the ruling party in India.
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