Facebook suspended former President Donald Trump for two years but in time for him to regain a powerful social media megaphone for the 2024 election cycle.
But Facebook warned that Trump’s Facebook and Instagram would incur penalties or be removed altogether if he violates the company’s rules again.
“When the suspension is eventually lifted, there will be a strict set of rapidly escalating sanctions that will be triggered if Mr. Trump commits further violations in future, up to and including permanent removal of his pages and accounts,” Facebook said Friday.
Trump’s accounts on Facebook and Instagram were frozen following the Jan. 6 attack after he praised supporters who stormed the Capitol.
The suspension will end two years after it began on Jan. 7, 2023.
Facebook’s Oversight Board – a quasi-independent panel of experts funded by Facebook – ruled that suspending Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts was the right move, but said it was not appropriate to impose an indefinite suspension and instructed the company to review the matter within six months, opening the door to Trump’s possible return.
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“In establishing the two year sanction for severe violations, we considered the need for it to be long enough to allow a safe period of time after the acts of incitement, to be significant enough to be a deterrent to Mr. Trump and others from committing such severe violations in future, and to be proportionate to the gravity of the violation itself,” Facebook said.
Trump lost his direct link to supporters when he was booted from the nation’s top social media platforms following the Capitol attack. He has relied instead on a patchwork of press releases and personal messages, television interviews, emails and robocalls to reach supporters. This week he pulled the plug on a blog “From the Desk of Donald J. Trump” due to low readership.
Facebook also announced new “enforcement protocols” for exceptional cases like Trump’s.
“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,” Facebook said.
This story is developing