Former President Donald Trump’s Facebook ban is sticking around for now, following the decision from Facebook’s Oversight Board to uphold its original ban from earlier this year. And Trump is not pleased, according to his first official statement.
“Free speech has been taken away from the President of the United States,” an emailed statement from Trump obtained by The New York Times reads, calling for a “political price” to be paid not just by Facebook, but by Google and Twitter as well.
Facebook’s Oversight Board is a panel of independent experts established to oversee high-stakes moderation and policy disputes on the social media platform. In its decision, the Oversight Board explained that while Facebook’s initial decision to suspend Trump’s account following the Capitol Riot was valid, the company’s institution of an indefinite suspension was not. Instead, the Board asked that Facebook “apply and justify a defined penalty” — whether that be permanently banning the former president or instilling a set amount of time before Trump is allowed back.
Notably, Facebook’s Oversight Board chose to punt the decision over whether Trump should be permanently banned, instead choosing to pass the final call back to Facebook. Per that decision, Facebook will be taking the next six months to “determine and justify a proportionate response that is consistent with the rules that are applied to other users of its platform,” meaning that the former president’s fate on the platform is still up in the air.
Trump’s statement doesn’t actually comment specifically on Facebook’s Oversight Board decision or advocate for Facebook to make any direct changes as it looks to create more concrete rules for how to handle both Trump’s ban and future incidents. Instead, Trump sticks to his typical inflammatory rhetoric and insults, rather than addressing specific policy concerns with the ongoing review process.
Having access to Facebook is more than just a place for Trump to post content on social media. As Axios notes, Facebook is a huge part of Trump’s political strategy and future, giving the former president and his team the ability to specifically target supporters with ad campaigns, in addition to serving as one of the biggest sources of Trump’s grassroots fundraising efforts. And a return to Facebook could be a major factor in whether Trump decides to run for office again in 2024.
In lieu of access to Facebook, Twitter, and other major social media platforms, Trump has started a new, short-form blog that mimics the format (if not the broad reach) of his former Facebook and Twitter accounts. And while Trump is free to post to the internet, it’ll ultimately be Facebook’s decision whether to hand him back the platform that he last used to help incite the Capital riot in the first place.