Trump critics call for permanent Facebook ban of former US president

 Trump critics call for permanent Facebook ban of former US president

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NEW YORK (AFP) – Calling Donald Trump a “clear and present danger,” a group of scholars and civil rights advocates on Friday (Feb 12) urged Facebook to permanently ban the former US president from the platform.

The group, which includes prominent longtime critics of the social media company, called on Facebook’s oversight board to remove Trump from the omnipresent platform after the ex-president’s account was frozen in the aftermath of the Jan 6 attack on the US Capitol.

Facebook’s oversight board has the final say on what is removed or allowed to remain on the world’s biggest social network, but the group warned of the dangers of allowing Trump to return.

“Overturning the Trump ban is an invitation to violence, hate and disinformation that will cost lives and undermine democracy,” the group said in a letter to the board.

“Don’t strike the match.”

They described Trump as a serial abuser of social media rules who poses a danger “to democracy and human life.”

Rival social media giant Twitter banned Trump after Jan 6 and on Wednesday announced the former president will not be permitted back on the network he used constantly, even if he runs for office again.

“Our policies are designed to ensure that people are not inciting violence,” Twitter chief financial officer Ned Segal said on CNBC.

Conservatives on Capitol Hill and beyond say the moves by Facebook and Twitter to “deplatform” Trump demonstrate political bias and inhibit free speech.

In the letter to Facebook’s board, the group also lambasts the social media company for employing the board as a “fig leaf” to evade responsibility for tough decisions.

“More than ever, this demonstrates why we need independent, democratically accountable oversight,” the group said.

They also called for “laws that change financial incentives for big tech, heavy regulation and a reckoning with the algorithms that are laying waste to democratic society.”

Signers of the letter include Rashad Robinson, president of Color of Change; Anti-Defamation League head Jonathan Greenblatt; and Harvard professor Lawrence Tribe.

Facebook and its Instagram platform suspended Trump after his supporters stormed the US Capitol on Jan 6, an attack on the seat of democracy that led to Trump’s second impeachment by lawmakers.

Members of Facebook’s oversight board come from various countries and include jurists, human rights activists, journalists, a Nobel peace laureate and a former Danish prime minister.

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