A co-chair of Facebook’s independent Oversight Board strongly defended the decision to uphold a ban on Donald Trump, saying the former president clearly violated rules when he “egged on” the Capitol mob as lawmakers “cowered in fear” for their lives.
Then-President Trump issued incendiary statements “as a mob was rampaging through the Capitol, as members of Congress were cowering in fear, as the rioters were threatening Vice President Pence’s life,” McConnell said.
He made “perfunctory [calls] asking for peace, but mostly he was just egging them on,” McConnell added.
As the mob was overrunning Capitol police, calling for politicians to be hanged, Trump hailed rioters on Facebook as “great patriots” and “special people.” He indicated in a post that such violence was to be expected when a “sacred landslide election victory ... is stripped away,” referring to his lie that the presidential election was rigged. Trump also again baselessly declared in a Facebook video: “The was a fraudulent election.”
This is a “plain violation of Facebook’s rules against praising dangerous individuals and organizations at a time of violence,” McConnell explained. “Mr. Trump is subject to the same rules on Facebook as everyone else. The Oversight Board held that this was in fact a violation, and thus Facebook was justified in taking them [Trump’s comments] down.”
The Oversight Board ruled last week that Trump had “created an environment where a serious risk of violence was possible” with his posts during the riot.
McConnell, a constitutional law professor at Stanford University and former federal judge, said the decision was not a violation of Trump’s First Amendment rights because free speech protections do not apply to privately owned platforms. “He’s customer,” said McConnell. “No judge in the country would rule” in favor of the former president on free speech, he noted.
McConnell, however, also chided Facebook on Fox for its lack of transparency on rules and enforcement.
“Their rules are a shambles,” he told Wallace. “They are not transparent, they are unclear, they are internally inconsistent. So we made a series of recommendations about how to make their rules clearer and more consistent. The hope is that they will use the next few months to do that.”
When it upheld Facebook’s ban on Trump, the board also ruled that it was “not appropriate” for Facebook to impose the “indeterminate and standardless penalty of indefinite suspension” because there’s no provision to do so in Facebook’s current rules. The company must “reexamine” its decision to ban Trump within six months.
Check out McConnell’s comments in the video up top. He addresses the Facebook ban beginning at 3:50.