Facebook says Donald Trump’s account could be reinstated in 2023 — a year before the next US presidential election.
The company announced on Friday that Trump‘s Facebook and Instagram accounts will remain suspended for two years, effective from the date of their initial ban on January 7.
Nick Clegg, Facebook’s vice-president of global affairs, said the company will then consider allowing him back on the platforms:
At the end of this period, we will look to experts to assess whether the risk to public safety has receded. We will evaluate external factors, including instances of violence, restrictions on peaceful assembly and other markers of civil unrest. If we determine that there is still a serious risk to public safety, we will extend the restriction for a set period of time and continue to re-evaluate until that risk has receded.
He added that once the suspension is lifted, “there will be a strict set of rapidly escalating sanctions” that will be triggered if Trump commits further violations. Clegg said these could include the permanent removal of his pages and accounts.
The former president’s accounts were suspended following the riots at the US Capitol building. They were initially blocked for 24 hours, but the ban was later made indefinite.
At the time, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the ban had been extended due to “the use of our platform to incite violent insurrection against a democratically elected government.”
Clegg announced that the company had reviewed this decision following criticism from Facebook’s Oversight Board, which had criticized the open-ended nature of the suspension:
In establishing the two-year sanction for severe violations, we considered the need for it to be long enough to allow a safe period of time after the acts of incitement, to be significant enough to be a deterrent to Mr Trump and others from committing such severe violations in future, and to be proportionate to the gravity of the violation itself.
The two-year suspension will disappoint the many people who had called for a permanent ban — particularly as it opens the door for Trump to return to the platforms before the 2024 election campaign.