In the wake of the two-year suspension announced for former president Donald Trump by Facebook on Friday, the company will no longer make exceptions for any politicians. Previously, politicians were exempt from some of Facebook’s policies.
All things considered, former US President Donald Trump set a standard for social media use by a politician, wielding it as a weapon and bypassing traditional media as an outlet for getting his agenda and opinions to the public.
Initially, Facebook and other social media platforms extended leeway to politicians by not applying their regular rules on posts as they would to other users. The assumption was that posts from politicians were newsworthy and part of the public debate, CNN reported.
Over time, social media providers came to the realization that politicians could use their platforms for manipulation or to spread what they deemed to be false information.
Now, Facebook will no longer routinely apply exceptions to the posts of politicians.
“When we assess content for newsworthiness, we will not treat content posted by politicians any differently from content posted by anyone else,” said Nick Clegg, Facebook’s vice president for global affairs, in a post on Friday.
Clegg went on to say that, while the company will not entirely end its newsworthiness exception for politicians, it will apply its regular rules to politicians more often than not.
Facebook said it will explicitly disclose the “rare instances” when the exception to bypass its regular rules has been applied for the sake of newsworthiness. Further, the company will continue to apply fact-checking on its platform to politicians.
The social media giant also promised to be more transparent and revealing the process it uses to count violations against accounts or pages, providing a better understanding of why content violates community standards.
On Friday, Facebook announced that Former President Donald Trump went be facing a suspension of two years from the platform. That means Trump will be barred from the social media site until at least January 7, 2023.
However, it could be even longer.
“[Facebook] will look to experts to assess whether the risk to public safety has receded,” said Clegg, regarding Trump. “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,” Clegg clarified, “we will extend the restriction for a set period of time and continue to re-evaluate until that risk has receded.”
What Trump’s suspension effectively means is that he will not be able to use his Facebook account to stump for other politicians prior to the 2022 midterm elections. As it stands, Trump’s suspension is poised to expire prior to the 2024 presidential election. However, should Facebook extend the ban, he would lose the ability to leverage his tens of millions of followers in the next presidential contest.