The oversight board of Facebook on Wednesday upheld the company’s ban on former U.S. President Donald Trump. In a surprise decision, however, they also said the company was wrong to make the suspension indefinite and gave it six months to determine a “proportionate response.”
Free speech advocates called the continued suspension an assault on speech and Trump called his banning “a total disgrace” and said the companies would “pay a political price.”
Big Tech, including Facebook, YouTube, Google, Twitter and others banned Trump and also took down the free speech Twitter competitor Parler. The companies at the time said Parler and Trump were responsible for the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. The Justice Department, however, later released the results of an investigation that showed the riot was fueled by Facebook and Twitter, not Parler. Video of Trump at the rally also showed he did not encourage the rally but implored the crowd to peacefully march to the capitol. Some had believed Facebook would take the new evidence into account over its ban of Trump. The verdict was highly anticipated as an indication of how Big Tech treats speech that is not illegal but which they disagree.
The controversial board is filled with individuals with compromised backgrounds, including a member with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood plus some with connections to left-wing activist groups.
The decision comes after an interview Trump held with Black conservative speaker Candace Owens in which he hinted at another presidential campaign.
“The answer is I’m absolutely enthused,” he said he told Candace Owens of The Daily Wire in response to a question about 2024. “I look forward to doing an announcement at the right time. As you know, it’s very early, but I think people are going to be very, very happy when I make a certain announcement, And, you know, for campaign finance reasons, you really can’t do it too early, because it becomes a whole different thing. Otherwise, I’d give you an answer that I think you’d be very happy with, All I’d say is `stay tuned.’”
— Candace (@thecandaceshow) May 4, 2021
Campaign finance laws strictly delineate how official candidates can handle money and require quarterly disclosure of all funds raised. Trump has regularly teased a third presidential run, but is planning to hold off on announcing his decision until after the 2022 midterm elections, he has said. Republicans believe they can flip the House of Representatives and the Senate next year before getting the White House back, though Democrats are confident in their ability to maintain control of all three.
The 2024 Republican field would change dramatically with Trump’s inclusion. Because of his popularity among GOP voters, he would instantly become the favorite to win the party’s nomination. But if he decides against running again, he would position himself as a kingmaker whose endorsement could easily lead to a win for a new candidate, such as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis or Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley.
Owens, a strong supporter of Trump, floated her name as a possible vice presidential candidate in the event he does run for a third time. “That’s very interesting,” Trump said. “Wow, what a good choice. That would be fantastic. You would be fantastic. And you know, I really appreciate the job you do. And everybody does.”
Polls indicate Trump is the Republican frontrunner for 2024, in spite of the Facebook ban.
–Alan Goforth and Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice