Facebook will no longer shield politicians and will instead treat them like normal users.
Following the January 6 insurgency, Facebook suspended Trump’s accounts across all platforms in order to prevent him from encouraging future bloodshed. The suspension was eventually accepted by Facebook’s independent Oversight Board, although it was stated that it needed to be specified in limited terms, causing Facebook to establish new enforcement rules dictating a maximum suspension duration of two years. Trump’s suspension will be reviewed again on January 7, 2023.
“At the end of this period, we will look to experts to assess whether the risk to public safety has receded,” writes Nick Clegg, VP of Facebook Global Affairs. “We will evaluate external factors, including instances of violence, restrictions on peaceful assembly and other markers of civil unrest. If we determine that there is still a serious risk to public safety, we will extend the restriction for a set period of time and continue to re-evaluate until that risk has receded.”
When Trump’s suspension is lifted, “a strict set of rapidly escalating sanctions” will be ready to be applied if he violates Facebook’s Community Standards again. His permanent removal is possible.
In the future, Facebook will be more specific about the punishments it imposes on politicians. Violations of their Community Standards will result in bans ranging from one month to two years. A post’s or account’s reach can also be limited in specific instances.
Facebook will continue to make newsworthiness exceptions for essential but contentious postings, but will no longer give politicians special treatment when determining whether or not a post is newsworthy.
They commit to “remove content if the risk of harm outweighs the public interest” regardless of who created it. They’ll also start designating postings with newsworthiness exceptions as such.
Facebook understands that their new policies will spark debate both now and in the future. They continue to urge for “frameworks agreed upon by democratically accountable lawmakers,” but in the absence of such a solution, they are content to regulate their own courts of public opinion.
Image credit: Barefoot Communications