Facebook oversight board considers permanent ban of Trump on their platforms
Long history of lies hate speech not likely to stop if reinstated
The oversight board for Facebook and Instagram will accept public comment until Monday, February 8, 2021, as it weighs its decision to block Donald Trump from posting content on its social media platforms. The unprecedented move came in the wake of the attack on the US capitol that sought to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power to then-president-elect Joe Biden and resulted in the deaths of five people. Trump’s words and actions that led to the assault are now being examined in his second impeachment trial which could determine if he will be allowed to ever run for office again. Likewise, the oversight board will determine if he will be allowed to use its social media platforms ever again.
Since the insurrection, much has been made of the “Big Lie” that inspired it: that everyone from the Detroit city clerk to the Supreme Court of the United States has conspired to reverse the outcome of the last Presidential election. While Facebook says it discourages “false news” and takes steps to suppress it, they don’t consider the act of lying to be a sufficient cause to delete an account permanently. But as the former President, Trump still has influence and can't be trusted to not use it for his own benefit even if that means the destruction of people's lives.
What he says has real-world consequences, consequences that violate Facebook's Community Standards.
Inciting violence is nothing new for Trump. After he declared journalists to be the enemy of the people, one of his supporters sent explosives to many of them. After he said Mexicans were invading America, another supporter murdered dozens of Hispanics in El Paso, TX. And after he tweeted “Liberate Michigan”, police soon uncovered a plot to murder Governor Whitmer. Given the response of his most ardent followers in the past and that he still invites them to adopt the paranoid delusion of the “Big Lie”, it would be unreasonable to believe that he would not encourage violent behavior on his behalf in the future.
Trump has also expressed praise for groups and individuals involved in terrorist activities, another violation of Facebook's Community Standards. Following the Charlottesville attack that killed a peaceful protester, Trump said there were “good people on both sides”. Similarly, after the US Capitol attack, he told participants they were special, they were patriots, and that he loved them.
Continuing to perpetuate the “Big Lie” also constitutes voter interference by misrepresenting whether votes for him were counted. It is also hate speech since it is premised on the idea that only majority Black communities (Detroit, Atlanta, Philadelphia) carried out the election fraud which carries with it the racist denigration of the Black people in those cities. Indeed, Trump has a long history of engaging in hate speech by targeting a group of people on the basis of their immigration status with dehumanizing comparisons to sexual predators and other criminals.
We at Michigan United believe that Facebook's decision to block Trump indefinitely was the right move. If he were ever to be reinstated, he would certainly continue his assault on the truth, our democracy, and the rule of law. While we expect white supremacists to continue their attacks on the institutions that protect our rights, there is no reason for Facebook to give their standard-bearer the megaphone he seeks to help them. We invite everyone who is disturbed by all the violence Trump has inspired while in office to follow the directions of the oversight board and submit a comment urging them to exclude him from their social media outlets permanently.