Originally, Donald J. Trump's ban from Facebook could have ended a mere two weeks after Joe Biden took the office. And while the former U.S. president is still unable to post another all-caps status update, we just learned that the timeline for his possible return is a lot longer than we once thought.
This news broke today (Friday, June 4) when Facebook VP of Global Affairs Nick Clegg announced Trump is currently off Facebook until January 7, 2023. Trump's ban could be extended, though.
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This is the second bit of news regarding Trump's online presence this week, as his personal social network (basically a blog, with buttons to share content to other social networks) shut down on Wednesday (June 2). Trump senior aide Jason Miller stated this was a pre-cursor to Trump joining a different social media platform.
This all ties back to the straw that broke Zuck's back, when Trump's rhetoric enabled and encouraged the violent attack on the Capitol building on January 6 (the day before the original suspension. Trump's penalties online began that day, when Twitter suspended his account for 12 hours, and then started removing his inflammatory tweets. Twitter then issued a "permanent suspension" Trump on January 8.
Facebook's bans have erred on the side of possibly letting Trump return. On January 7, CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the ban in a post stating Trump's Facebook and Instagram accounts would be shut down "indefinitely and for at least the next two weeks until the peaceful transition of power is complete."
The announcement was joined by a new bit of Facebook policy, illustrated in the below chart. Penalties such as what Mr. Trump is facing will be applied to other "public figures during times of civil unrest and ongoing violence. The scale appears to have four levels of punishment: a month, six months, a year and two years.
Trump got the maximum amount, because (in Clegg's words), "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."
Once two years have passed from that original date Trump was banned "[the Oversight Board at Facebook] will look to experts to assess whether the risk to public safety has receded."
The board will check this state by examining "external factors, including instances of violence, restrictions on peaceful assembly and other markers of civil unrest." So, if 2023 Trump is still the same Donald who was pushing for an insurrection, he'll still be locked out of Facebook.
Clegg couched the decision in the public's best interest, as the social network will look to "determine [if] there is still a serious risk to public safety." If that is the case, Facebook will lengthen the suspension and re-evaluate again. The post suggests the company will continue this pattern until Trump is no longer encouraging unrest. Given that the former president is apparently telling people he expects to be "reinstated" in the White House this August — something that's not in the Constitution, much less the cards — that could be a while.