Menlo Park (dpa) – Ex-President Donald Trump remains blocked on Facebook – but will still have the opportunity to return to the platform. Facebook’s independent board of directors ordered the online network to re-investigate the matter within six months.
The body known as the Oversight Board felt that the suspension of the then head of state “until further notice” was not an appropriate step due to the unclear period. Facebook must put the facts to the test again – and determine an appropriate penalty, in accordance with the rules that also apply to other users of the platform.
In the case of the online network, the removal of individual content, clear temporary blocking or permanent ban are planned as punitive measures. Ultimately, Trump could lose access to Facebook and Instagram for life.
Comprised of legal experts, activists and former politicians, the body is a sort of “Supreme Court” of Facebook, whose decisions cannot be overruled even by founder and boss Mark Zuckerberg. Trump is now hiring his supporters to spread his opinion on the major online services.
The Oversight Board also wondered whether it makes sense to make exceptions to the rules for leading politicians – as Facebook has done with Trump in recent years. The same approach should be taken against all users at risk.
Facebook, Twitter and YouTube banned Trump shortly before the end of his term in January. The trigger was the storming of the US Capitol by his supporters – and that he expressed sympathy for the attackers. He also continues to claim, without any evidence, that his November presidential election victory was stolen by fraud. He heated the tension.
The panel called on Facebook to investigate the role of the online network in spreading false information about the election results. For a long time, Facebook had limited itself to warning messages in addition to Trump’s messages. Facebook’s head of politics, Nick Clegg, confirmed in an initial response that Trump would remain banned until the review was completed.
Twitter has already stressed that there is no direct way back to the platform for Trump. Google’s video platform YouTube, on the other hand, wants to unblock its profile when “the risk of violence has decreased”.
After being banned from online services, Trump has relied on sending statements by email for the past few months. Before that, the Twitter account was by far his main communication channel with over 80 million subscribers.
Trump is still popular with many Republican voters – and that still ensures him significant influence in the party. At the same time, its ability to influence public opinion drastically diminished with the ban on online services.
The day before the Facebook decision, Trump made arrangements to take his opinion on Twitter and Facebook. He started a blog section on his website – from where the individual posts can also be shared between the two services.
A Twitter spokesperson said it’s generally allowed to share content from a website as long as it doesn’t violate the platform’s guidelines. At the same time, however, he was also referring to Twitter’s rules against breaking a block. It is therefore prohibited to impersonate a blocked account or for someone to manage a profile for a blocked person. Twitter will act on such violations.
That would leave Trump with a second-tier presence – because his ideas would circulate through the profiles of his followers, but he still couldn’t be followed directly. There was initially no comment from Facebook about sharing Trump messages.
The blog section began Tuesday with the title “From the desk of Donald J. Trump” and is reminiscent of Twitter – but only posts from Trump. His followers can also add a ‘Like’ heart to individual posts, just like on Twitter – and can also be notified of new posts. However, there is no opportunity to comment on Trump’s contributions.
The money for the regulator comes from Facebook, but is in a trust company, which must guarantee independence. In the few previous decisions, the Oversight Board has already rolled back several blocks of content from Facebook.