Last night, Facebook followed Twitter in imposing a one-day ban on Donald Trump over its social-media platforms. On second thought this morning, Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t want to spend the next two weeks having to guess when to pull that trigger again. Instead, Facebook and Instagram will lock out the president of the United States until he goes into retirement:
Following the certification of the election results by Congress, the priority for the whole country must now be to ensure that the remaining 13 days and the days after inauguration pass peacefully and in accordance with established democratic norms.
Over the last several years, we have allowed President Trump to use our platform consistent with our own rules, at times removing content or labeling his posts when they violate our policies. We did this because we believe that the public has a right to the broadest possible access to political speech, even controversial speech. But the current context is now fundamentally different, involving use of our platform to incite violent insurrection against a democratically elected government.
We believe the risks of allowing the President to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great. Therefore, we are extending the block we have placed on his Facebook and Instagram accounts indefinitely and for at least the next two weeks until the peaceful transition of power is complete.
I’d bet Twitter comes to the same conclusion within a short period of time. How much of their resources are getting sucked up by trying to append dispute tags on the Commander in Tweef? His obsession with conspiracy theories over the 2020 election produce negatives that far outweigh any positives that flow from having the Leader of the Free World on their platforms, especially for the limited amount of time Trump has left in that position.
Actually, after yesterday, it’s probably safe to consider the LotFW position vacant for the next couple of weeks, even if the office of POTUS isn’t.
Of course, this might be easier to accept if Facebook actually imposed standards on which world leaders are acceptable for their platform. Like Twitter, Facebook allows Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei to publish without restriction, despite his status as the commander of the world’s most vicious state sponsor of terrorism. For instance, does Zuck think this is acceptable rhetoric in relation to violence against democratically elected governments?
For reflections on Christ, I always turn to … a murderous Islamist zealot whose proxy armies are destabilizing the whole region.
If Facebook and Twitter want to impose these standards, they’d better be prepared to apply them equally. I’d say it’s better to err on the side of free speech, but at the very least let’s have one standard. To the extent that Trump uses these platforms to organize events like yesterday’s rallies, it’s understandable and arguably a good idea that Zuckerberg would take this action over the next couple of weeks. But let’s not pretend that Khamenei and other world leaders don’t use these same platforms to organize violence and spread hatred. When will Zuckerberg take action in those instances? Because that would be pretty useful as well.