A top Facebook executive has spoken out to defend Donald Trump’s two-year ban by the company, saying the former president crossed a “red line” against inciting violence during the US Capitol riot.
Nick Clegg, Facebook’s head of global affairs and communications who previously led the British Liberal Democrats political party, spoke out about the controversial ban in an interview with ABC news on Sunday.
“It doesn’t matter who you are, you can be the Pope, the Queen of England, the President of the United States, you can’t use our services, and I hope most people think this is reasonable, to help , to support, instigate or praise acts of violence,” Clegg said.
“I hope most people agree that it’s something we just don’t want on social media,” he added.
Nick Clegg, Facebook’s head of global affairs and communications who formerly led Britain’s Liberal Democrats political party, defended Facebook’s ban on Trump
Trump criticized the ban as ‘unfair’ censorship at his North Carolina rally on Friday
Under pressure from host George Stephanopoulos, Clegg insisted that Trump be banned for encouraging the January 6 riots, not for spreading false claims about the election.
“I think it’s right that we should be expected to take action when, in hopefully generally rare cases, people use our apps and services in a way that could lead to immediate real-world harm,” Clegg said.
Clegg insisted that Facebook did not want to engage in vetting misinformation and called on regulators to step in and take control of what speech is allowed on social media.
“I don’t think anyone would want a private company like Facebook to check everything people say on social media for accuracy and then take people off the platform if what they say is inaccurate,” Clegg said. “I hope most people think this is reasonable.”
“The people who should set the rules for how American democracy plays out and where to draw the line on what speech is and isn’t acceptable shouldn’t be — not private companies exactly, it should be legislators and legislators in D.C. are accountable to their own people and around the world,” he said.
Facebook and CEO Mark Zuckerberg (above) have been harshly criticized for the ban
Facebook, which Trump had previously banned indefinitely on Jan. 7, announced the two-year term on Friday, prompting Trump to react angrily.
“Maybe they’ll give me back in two years. We have to stop that. We can’t let it happen. So unfair,” he said Friday at a rally in North Carolina.
“They’re closing a whole group of — not just me, they’re closing the voice of a tremendously powerful — in my opinion — a much more powerful and much larger group,” Trump said.
The two-year ban will take effect from early January, meaning it will expire in January 2023, long enough to sideline Trump on Facebook during the pivotal midterm elections.
“Given the seriousness of the circumstances leading to Mr Trump’s suspension, we believe his actions constituted a serious violation of our rules that deserve the highest penalty available under the new enforcement protocols,” Clegg said in a statement. message announcing the ban.
In updating its policy, Facebook also said it will no longer give politicians general immunity for misleading or abusive content based on their newsworthy comments.
After Trump’s two-year ban ends, Facebook will engage experts to assess whether his activity on the platform still poses a threat to public safety, Clegg said.
“If we determine that there is still a serious risk to public safety, we will extend the restriction for a period of time and continue to re-evaluate until that risk has diminished,” Clegg said.
When Trump’s suspension is lifted, he will face strict sanctions that, Clegg says, could quickly escalate to permanent removal for violating the rules.
Last month, the “oversight board” convened by the company said Facebook was justified in ousting Trump over his comments about the January 6 riots.
But the board warned that the platform should not have applied an “indefinite and standard-less penalty of indefinite suspension.”