Facebook, ban Trump permanently




Facebook’s Oversight Board has reached its decision on whether to permanently ban Donald Trump from the platform. They punted. Having said that, I don’t think their decision is as bad as some say. Here’s why.

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On January 7, 2021, Facebook banned Trump “indefinitely” after he used the social media platform to cheer on the deadly Insurrection against the US Capitol building the day before. Facebook has an Oversight Board that can review such decisions, and later in January, Facebook asked the board to review Trump’s indefinite suspension.

The Oversight Board issued its ruling this morning, and it’s complicated, but also justly nuanced. Overall, the Board says that action against Trump was merited, but that the specific action Facebook took, to suspend Trump “indefinitely” — meaning, maybe for a short while, maybe forever — is too vague. Facebook either needs to ban Trump permanently, or suspend his account for a set and publicly-declared period of time (and then, renew the suspension if they believe he will continue the offending behavior that got him suspended in the first place).

Facebook was likely hoping the Board would make a final decision for them, so that Mark Zuckerberg et. al., could deflect any blame, from left or right, back to the Board members. Alas, that didn’t happen.

The Board ruled that the ban — suspension, really — stays in place for now, and Facebook has six months to review its decision, and either make it a temporary suspension that lifts or is renewed after a time certain, or a permanent ban. The Board also said that if Facebook does not reach a decision within six months, the ban will become permanent on its own (kind of like a pocket veto in reverse).


In addition to its decision, Facebook’s Oversight Board posted a history of what happened on January 6th, and it’s clear the Board is none-too-thrilled with what Trump did. This language should make it harder for Facebook to simply let Trump back on.

BEGIN QUOTE

Elections are a crucial part of democracy. On January 6, 2021, during the counting of the 2020 electoral votes, a mob forcibly entered the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. This violence threatened the constitutional process. Five people died and many more were injured during the violence. During these events, then-President Donald Trump posted two pieces of content.

At 4:21 pm Eastern Standard Time, as the riot continued, Mr. Trump posted a video on Facebook and Instagram:

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.

At 5:41 pm Eastern Standard Time, Facebook removed this post for violating its Community Standard on Dangerous Individuals and Organizations.

At 6:07 pm Eastern Standard Time, as police were securing the Capitol, Mr. 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!

At 6:15 pm Eastern Standard Time, Facebook removed this post for violating its Community Standard on Dangerous Individuals and Organizations. It also blocked Mr. Trump from posting on Facebook or Instagram for 24 hours.

On January 7, after further reviewing Mr. Trump’s posts, his recent communications off Facebook, and additional information about the severity of the violence at the Capitol, Facebook extended the block “indefinitely and for at least the next two weeks until the peaceful transition of power is complete.”

On January 7, after further reviewing Mr. Trump’s posts, his recent communications off Facebook, and additional information about the severity of the violence at the Capitol, Facebook extended the block “indefinitely and for at least the next two weeks until the peaceful transition of power is complete.”

END QUOTE

The timeline reminds us that Trump posted his comments, egging the violent insurrectionists on, late in the day, after everyone was aware of how violent the day had become. From 4pm to 6pm ET, the Insurrection had already been going on for three to five hours. Here are some additional time markers, courtesy of Bill Moyers, so that you can fully appreciate just how bad Trump’s Facebook posts were in the context of the day’s events. These were not comments Trump made during the fog of war, when no one even realized how bad the assault on the Capitol really was. They’re things he said after everyone knew lives were at risk.

12:30 pm: Josh Hawley gives soon-to-be rioters the thumbs up.

1 pm: Trump supporters begin to storm the police barricades outside the US Capitol building.

1:11 pm: Trump urges his supporters to march to the Capitol.

1:26 pm: The US Capitol Police order the evacuation of the Capitol.

1:30 pm: Insurrectionists overrun the police barricades and make their way up the Capitol steps.

1:49 pm: The Capitol Police Chief asks the National Guard for help.

At this point, not only is the Insurrection all over television, but the fact that the National Guard has been asked to intervene means surely someone thought to notify the President of this fact — after all, his own Vice President was there! Trump knew exactly how dire the situation was over two hours before his first Facebook post egging the rioters on.

1:59 pm: Rioters have reached the Capitol doors, and are breaking windows in an attempt to enter.

2:11 pm: Still more than two hours BEFORE Trump’s Facebook posts, the US Capitol building is breached by rioters.

2:13 pm: VP Pence is rushed off the US Senate floor. Trump was absolutely informed of this fact.

2:20pm: Members of Congress are trapped, pleading for help by phone to anyone in Washington who will listen. We are still two hours away from Trump publicly urging the rioters on.

2:24pm: Knowing his Vice President is under siege from a violent mob threatening to lynch him, Trump publicly criticizes Pence on Twitter:

“Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth!”

2:28pm: Rioters storm Pelosi’s office.

2:52pm: SWAT teams enter the Capitol building.

4:17pm: An hour and 25 minutes later, Trump posts his Facebook video lauding and defending the rioters.

It’s bad enough what Trump did to aid and abet the violent insurrection on Facebook, but when you look at the timeline of events that day, Trump’s actions are far worse in context. After the entire country had already spent three hours in shock at the unfolding violence, Trump weighed in, using Facebook to support the terrorist attack on our government.

It doesn’t get any worse than that.

READ MORE —> Read the rest of my story over at CyberDisobedience.


CyberDisobedience on Substack | @aravosis | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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