Facebook suspended former President Donald Trump on January 6, 2021. Now, amid suggestions that he may “have to do it again” and growing GOP support for him to do so, Facebook has suggested that Trump’s potential candidacy won’t mean immediate reinstatement.
Along with Twitter and YouTube, Facebook suspended then-President Trump’s accounts. Facebook originally announced it would only block Trump from posting for 24 hours, noting two policy violations. However, on January 7, Trump was given an indefinite suspension.
In May 2021, the Facebook Oversight Board claimed the company was justified in banning the president and suggested that Trump’s comments on the day of the January 6 protests “created an environment where a serious risk of violence was possible.”
The post cited as justification for Trump’s Facebook ban contained a video in which the former president told supporters at or nearby the Capitol to disperse. “You have to go home now,” he said. “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 anyone hurt.” In the video, Trump also said, “We had an election that was stolen from us. … It was a landslide election and everyone knows it, especially the other side.”
On June 4, 2021, Trump’s Facebook suspension became a minimum two-year ban, until at least January 2023).
Trump brought a class-action lawsuit against Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, along with their CEOs, in July 2021, alleging censorship. The Department of Justice intervened in his lawsuit against Facebook to defend Section 230, and a federal judge dismissed his lawsuit against Twitter in May of this year.
An announcement in 2022 won’t change things
Facebook recently informed Politico that it will not reconsider the former president’s suspension before January 2023, even if he announces his intention to run for re-election in 2024. President of global affairs at Facebook Nick Clegg told Politico, “We’re going to stay on that timeline.”
When it comes to making the decision in the new year, Clegg said Facebook “will look at the situation as best we can understand it” and that the provision of “running commentary on political developments in the meantime is not really going to … help illuminate that decision when we need to make it.”
After Clegg — a former deputy prime minister of the United Kingdom — first issued Facebook’s statement on Trump’s suspension, his countryman Douglas Murray suggested it was “an amazing promotion” for a “widely unpopular” politician, “chucked out by the British electorate,” to get “to say what the former president of the United States can say where and when.”
Clegg has indicated that ahead of the 2022 midterm elections, Facebook will label “misleading content,” particularly about voting and the outcomes of elections. Furthermore, the company will allegedly block new political, electoral, and issue-based ads in the final days leading up the midterms.
The company similarly flagged content its fact-checkers deemed “disinformation” ahead of the November 2020 election, including the Hunter Biden laptop story. In October 2020, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO and chairman of Meta, told lawmakers at a hearing before the Senate Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet that the company “constrained [the] distribution” of the New York Post articles revealing damaging contents of Hunter Biden’s emails.
Around the time of Zuckerberg’s admission, Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said, “We have seen Big Tech — we’ve seen Twitter and Facebook — actively interfering in this election in a way that has no precedent in the history of our country.”