(Washington Insider Magazine) – Former President Trump vowed revenge against social media companies after an oversight panel ruled Wednesday that Facebook could keep him suspended for at least another six months.
Facebook’s quasi-independent Oversight Board agreed that two of Trump’s posts “severely violated” their standards — but criticized the social media giant for imposing an “indeterminate and standardless penalty of indefinite suspension.”
In six months, Facebook must review that suspension and specify how long it will last, “consistent with the rules that are applied to other users of its platform,” the board said.
Trump swiftly slammed the continuing ban as “a total disgrace and an embarrassment to our Country.”
“Free Speech has been taken away from the President of the United States because the Radical Left Lunatics are afraid of the truth,” he said in a email statement.
“These corrupt social media companies must pay a political price,” he continued. “(They) must never again be allowed to destroy and decimate our Electoral Process.”
Trump has hinted at plans to start his own social media network, but so far has not done so.
The one-time president was suspended “indefinitely” on Jan. 7 from Facebook and Instagram — which is owned by Facebook — for inciting the violence at the Capitol a day earlier. He was also permanently banned from Twitter.
Oversight Board co-chair Helle Thorning-Schmidt said Facebook avoided responsibility by keeping the ban vague.
“Facebook should either permanently disable Trump’s account or impose a suspension for a specific period of time,” said Thorning-Schmidt, a former Danish prime minister.
In the first post that the board flagged, Trump told the rioters, “We love you. You’re very special.” In the second, he commended them as “great patriots” and told them to “remember this day forever.”
Both posts went against Facebook’s rules prohibiting praise or support of people engaged in violence, the panel said.
Oversight Board chairman Thomas Hughes said there was a broad spectrum of opinions about Trump’s actions among the 20 members. But all were united in deciding that decisions must be fair and predictable to all users, he said.
“Facebook must make its rules on things like account suspensions and deletions, which are extremely important for freedom of expression issues … they must make those rules consistent and transparent,” Hughes told MSNBC.
Politicians and free speech advocates around the world have been closely watching the Facebook decision, as it has wide implications for the role of big tech in regulating online speech and protecting people from abuse and misinformation.
Facebook created the oversight panel following widespread criticism after the 2016 election that it was not responding swiftly and effectively to misinformation, hate speech and nefarious influence campaigns.
All nine of the panel’s decisions so far have tended to favor free expression over the restriction of content.