Facebook announced today that former president Donald Trump will be suspended from the platform for two years, following posts on Facebook and Instagram that praised the violent insurrection on the US Capitol that sought to overturn his loss in the presidential election.
“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,” the company said in the announcement.
Nick Clegg, Facebook’s VP of global affairs, said when the ban expires on Jan. 7, 2023, the company will “look to experts to assess whether the risk to public safety has receded,” which means that civil unrest or violence would be considered in allowing Trump back on Facebook.
The former president called the two-year ban an “insult” in a statement, and said that “they shouldn’t be allowed to get away with this censoring and silencing.”
Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
After two years, if Facebook thinks there’s a “serious risk to public safety” by letting Trump back on, the restriction will be renewed for another period of time, after which it would again be reevaluated.
When — or if — Trump is allowed back on Facebook and Instagram, any infractions against the platform’s community standards would result in “a set of rapidly escalating sanctions” that could include the “permanent removal of his pages and accounts,” according to the post.
Facebook also admitted fault in how it handled Trump’s posts in January 2020. It notes that Facebook “did not have enforcement protocols in place adequate to respond to such unusual events,” but said that they were in place now.
The decision comes after the Oversight Board, a Facebook-administered advisory committee, upheld the suspension, but asked the company to revisit the penalty. The ruling included nineteen recommendations, and Facebook said that it would fully implement fifteen of them. These included a mandate to “act quickly on posts made by influential users that pose a high probability of imminent harm,” and consider context when making assessments about harm.
The two-year ban comes as Trump has reportedly told supporters privately that he thinks he will be “reinstated” as president in August. This will not happen — but Trump has also suggested recently that he is considering running for president in 2024.
Trump has used Facebook and other social media platforms to spread hate and false information to his supporters, including by falsely claiming the election was stolen. “We believe the risks of allowing the President to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote on Jan. 7.
After Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and several other social networks locked down his accounts, Trump has fumbled to keep relevant. He has issued press releases that mimic social media posts, and briefly started his own blog, before closing it after just 29 days.
The decision, which allows Trump to potentially return during the 2024 primary season, is part of a larger effort by the company to rethink its approach to politicians. Yesterday, the company announced that elected officials would be subject to the same content moderation rules as other people.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates and follow BuzzFeed News on Twitter.