Facebook exec defends ban on Trump and says he crossed a 'red line'

Facebook exec defends two-year ban on Trump and says he crossed a ‘red line’ by inciting violence during the Capitol riot

  • Top Facebook exec Nick Clegg defended company’s Trump ban on Sunday
  • Former British politician is Facebook’s VP for global affairs and communications
  • Clegg insisted that Trump crossed a ‘red line’ on violence in Capitol riot
  • Claimed that Facebook did not want to be the arbiter of misinformation
  • Pleaded for government regulators to control what is allowed on social media 

A top Facebook executive has spoken out to defend the company’s two-year ban of Donald Trump, saying the former president crossed a ‘red line’ against inciting violence during the U.S. Capitol riot. 

Nick Clegg, Facebook’s head of global affairs and communications who formerly led the UK political party Liberal Democrats, addressed 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 cannot use our services, and I hope most people would think this is reasonable, to aid, abet, foment, or praise acts of violence,’ Clegg said.

‘I hope most people would agree is something that we just don’t want on social media,’ he added.

Nick Clegg, Facebook’s head of global affairs and communications who formerly led the UK political party Liberal Democrats, defended Facebook’s ban on Trump

Trump slammed the ban as ‘unfair’ censorship at his North Carolina rally on Friday

Pressed by host George Stephanopoulos, Clegg insisted that Trump was banned for encouraging the January 6 riot, and not for spreading false claims about the election. 

‘I think it’s right that we should be expected to take action where people in hopefully on the whole rare cases use our apps and services in a way which could lead to real world imminent harm,’ Clegg said.

Clegg insisted that Facebook did not want to be in the business of vetting misinformation and called for regulators to step in and take control of what speech is allowed on social media.

‘I don’t think anybody wants a private company like Facebook to be vetting everything that people say on social media for its precise accuracy and then booting 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 the line should be drawn on what speech is and is not acceptable shouldn’t — exactly shouldn’t be private companies, it should be legislators and lawmakers in D.C. and around the world, answerable to their own people,’ he said.

Facebook and CEO Mark Zuckerberg (above) have face harsh criticism over the ban

Facebook, which had previously banned Trump indefinitely on January 7, on Friday announced the two-year time frame, prompting Trump to respond furiously.

‘They may allow me back in two years. We got to stop that. We can’t let it happen. So unfair,’ he said at a rally on Friday in North Carolina.

‘They’re shutting down an entire group of — not just me, they’re shutting down the voice of a tremendously powerful — in my opinion — a much more powerful and much larger group,’ said Trump. 

The two-year ban will be effective from early January, meaning it will expire in January 2023, long enough to keep Trump sidelined on Facebook during the crucial midterm elections. 

‘Given the gravity of the circumstances that led to Mr. Trump’s suspension, we believe his actions constituted a severe violation of our rules which merit the highest penalty available under the new enforcement protocols,’ Clegg said in a post announcing the ban.

In updating its policies, Facebook also said it will no longer give politicians blanket immunity for deceptive or abusive content based on their comments being newsworthy.

At the end of Trump’s two-year ban, Facebook will enlist experts to assess whether his activity on the platform still threatens public safety, according to Clegg.

‘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,’ Clegg said.

When Trump’s suspension is lifted, he will face strict sanctions that could rapidly escalate to permanent removal for rule-breaking, according to Clegg.

Last month, the ‘oversight board’ convened by the company said Facebook was justified in ousting Trump for his comments regarding the January 6 riot.

But the board warned that the platform should not have applied an ‘indeterminate and standardless penalty of indefinite suspension.’ 

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