Yesterday, Facebook decided to continue banning former President Donald Trump from having an account on its platform. His FB account was extinguished on January 7th. The day prior, called Certification Day, he had gathered together a large crowd and incited many of them to storm the nearby Capitol to try to stop the 535 members of Congress gathered there to certify the Electoral College votes and declare Joe Biden the next president. Trump had been constantly declaring, and still is, what is now called “the Big Lie”–that the election was stolen from him due to voter fraud.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and others therefore banned President Trump from using their social platforms because he had incited violence on Certification Day. Many hundreds from that crowd had assaulted the Capitol, which resulted in five deaths and 140 Capitol Police officer injuries. And Trump never admitted fault about it.
Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and CEO of Facebook, had been a strong proponent of free speech. When U.S. intelligence services claimed in 2016 that Russian government operatives were using Facebook to interfere in the upcoming president election to get Donald Trump elected, Zuckerberg publicly denied it had happened. Months later, he retracted that declaration, admitted it had occurred, and expressed regret.
But many, including myself, believed Zuckerberg was not doing enough to stop this Russian interference. I have been an investor in Facebook multiple times, even before it went public. About two years ago I sold my Facebook shares, even though it was a good investment, and decided I would never invest in the company again unless they changed for the better about policing their platform. I viewed it a lot like a newspaper. I believed Facebook had hurt our country in refusing to police its platform any more than it was and that it should hold politicians accountable just as much as other clients.
When Zuckerberg announced this Facebook ban of Trump months ago, he explained, “We believe the risks of allowing the president to continue to use our service during the period are simply too great.”
And Facebook is trying to do more about this problem now. It selected an independent oversight board consisting of twenty lawyers, journalists, and politicians to study the problem and make suggestions for solving it. So, Facebook announced yesterday that it would continue banning Trump from its platform for an indefinite period. The board, however, recommended that Facebook revisit this decision within the next six months. It also advised Facebook to establish a criterion of principles for banning anyone and to be transparent about it. The other above-mentioned social media platforms have continued to ban Donald Trump until now as well.
So, since this banning of Donald Trump from social media, he has no longer had his giant megaphone to constantly spread his rhetoric and many lies. And reportedly twenty-nine legal investigations of Trump–most of them civil, but some criminal–have been underway, some for years. If he gets indicted in the next few months for any of these investigations, I suspect that Donald Trump’s previous involvement on social media will be history. That is, Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms will no longer allow Donald Trump, the former U.S. president, to trumpet again on their platforms.