Why is this important?
Facebook has let elected officials get away with violent hate speech and disinformation for far too long. Facebook’s decision to prohibit Trump’s access to Facebook and Instagram was correct, albeit too late. Facebook’s Oversight Board should uphold Facebook’s decision to ban Trump and even more important, place far greater scrutiny on people with power by revoking the “newsworthiness” exemption to Facebook’s policies.
Studies have found evidence that Donald Trump’s rise to power — and his subsequent election as president of the United States — fueled a surge in hate crimes.1 In addition to hate crimes, far-right disinformation is thriving on Facebook and fueling real-world engagement.2 It’s this combination of disinformation and hate that incited an insurrection at the Capitol three months ago.
If Trump is allowed back on the platform, this violence will only continue, thanks to Facebook's lax policies that allow for speech made by politicians to exist on the platform unchecked.
In 2018, Facebook decided to implement a “newsworthiness” exemption that would exclude posts considered to be “significant, or important to the public interest — even if they might otherwise violate our standards.” This exemption was expanded to automatically apply to speech made by politicians.3
This “newsworthiness” exemption to Facebook’s existing policies allowed Trump and many other conspiracy theorists and upholders of white supremacy to gain power and mobilize thousands of people to spread disinformation, attempt a coup against the United States, and wreak violence on their fellow Americans.
Digital platforms are not vacuums. An online presence is so much more than having an active account, and people in positions of power should be held to higher, not lower, content moderation standards than everyone else.
Violence starts with words. And what is written online — especially when those with power disparage those without — affects what happens offline.
For our democracy and the safety of our communities, Facebook’s Oversight board should uphold the decision to ban Trump and revoke their “newsworthiness” exemption.
Sign this petition to tell Facebook’s Oversight Board: Ban Trump.
1. “Hate Crimes Under Trump Surged Nearly 20 Percent Says FBI Report,” Newsweek, Nov. 16, 2020.
2. “Far-Right Misinformation Drives Facebook Engagement,” NPR, March 6. 2021.
3. “Facebook, Elections and Political Speech,” Facebook, Nov. 19, 2019.