Facebook exec implied Trump’s suspension would continue past 2023 if he encouraged violence but not if he spread lies

Nick Clegg Facebook
Facebook Vice President of Global Affairs Nick Clegg during an appearance on ABC News’ “This Week.”

  • Facebook’s VP of Global Affairs on Sunday shed light on the company’s decision to suspend Trump for two years.
  • He affirmed the company’s view that Trump would be allowed back in 2023 so long as there wasn’t a risk to public safety.
  • He said he didn’t think Facebook should be tasked with verifying the content users post for “precise accuracy.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Nick Clegg, Facebook’s vice president of global affairs, said Sunday that whether former President Donald Trump encourages violence would be the key factor that determines if he is allowed to use its platform in the future.

“It’s very difficult for me to make hypothetical judgements,” Clegg told George Stephanopoulos during an appearance on ABC News’ “This Week.”

Stephanopoulos noted that Trump had once more repeated false claims at a Saturday night rally in North Carolina, the former president’s first public speaking engagement in three months. As The New York Times reported, Trump at the rally repeated his false claims about the 2020 election being “rigged.”

The president was suspended from Facebook following his incitement of the January 6 riot at the US Capitol that resulted in five deaths. Trump was also banned from using Twitter. In May, Facebook’s Oversight Board affirmed the company’s decision to suspend the former president but asked the company to reevaluate the decision.

The company announced Friday that Trump would be banned from using Facebook until at least January 2023 – two years after he was booted from the platform. At that time, Facebook said it would reevaluate its decision to suspend Trump and would allow him to use it if the risk to public safety has “receded.”

Trump responded Friday, calling Facebook’s decision to uphold his suspension “abuse.”

Stephanopoulos on Sunday pressed Clegg and asked if Trump’s continued spreading of misinformation would hinder his returning to Facebook in 2023.

“We have a whole range of tools that we use to deal with misinformation,” Clegg said Sunday. “So we work with fact-checkers around the world to demote and label content, whether it claims about elections or indeed false claims about anything else.

“That is something we would apply to people who are not in active office or not pursuing office as candidates in politics,” he continued. “That is a system that applies to everybody else. and would apply in Donald Trump’s case as long as he’s no longer a candidate.”

Facebook also Friday announced that politicians and world leaders will no longer be exempt from its content moderation rules.

But Clegg said Sunday he believed it wasn’t in the best interest for a “private company like Facebook” to verify everything people say on its platform for “precise accuracy” and removing users if they post false content. Instead, he said the company preferred to use independent fact-checkers to demote and label untrue content.

“The bright red line there is encouraging violence – not spreading lies?” Stephanopoulos asked.

“Yeah,” Clegg agreed. “We’ve got very clear rules.”

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