Donald Trump — languishing in the social media wilderness, banned from Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, YouTube and Twitch after inciting a violent mob to storm the U.S. Capitol — finally got a spot of good news on Friday. Facebook announced that the former president’s indefinite suspension from the social media network has a potential expiration date: January 8th, 2023 — or, right around the time the 2024 presidential race will be getting underway. Hm.
Facebook suspended Trump’s account the day after the then-president delivered a speech to throngs of fans who’d traveled from around the country, encouraging his supporters to “walk down to the Capitol” to stop “this egregious assault on our democracy.” (He meant the certification of Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory in the 2020 presidential election.)
“We are going to have to fight much harder,” Trump said that day. “And Mike Pence is going to have to come through for us, and if he doesn’t, that will be a sad day for our country. Because you’re sworn to uphold our Constitution.”
Rioters would later roam the halls, chanting “Hang Mike Pence” and searching for the then-vice president, who had a ceremonial role in the certification. Footage screened at Trump’s second impeachment trial showed just how narrowly Pence and his family escaped the mob. In remarks Thursday, Pence said, “President Trump and I have spoken many times since we left office. And I don’t know if we’ll ever see eye to eye on that day.”
Facebook’s announcement today comes roughly one month after the social network’s 20-member Oversight Board — made up of lawyers, academics and journalists from around the world — upheld Facebook’s ban of the former reality TV star. In their ruling, the board, which Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has likened to a Supreme Court for the social media site, criticized the open-endedness of the suspension, calling it an “indeterminate and standardless penalty.”
As part of it’s announcement Friday, Facebook sought to outline “new enforcement protocols” that could be used against any public figure “during times of civil unrest and ongoing violence.” The penalties range from a one month suspension to two years. Trump’s two-year suspension will be retroactive, with an effective start date of January 7th, 2020.
But his suspension could be extended beyond two years. Come January 2023, the company said in a statement, “We will look to experts to assess whether the risk to public safety has receded. We will evaluate external factors, including instances of violence, restrictions on peaceful assembly and other markers of civil unrest. If we determine that there is still a serious risk to public safety, we will extend the restriction for a set period of time and continue to re-evaluate until that risk has receded.”
All of this is good news for Trump — who is still, somehow, the overwhelming favorite for the GOP nomination in ‘24 — and he may need some cheering up since he’s recently had to face the cold, hard truth that not everyone is cut out to be a blogger.
For his part, Trump didn’t seem particularly heartened by the news that he may be able to regain control of his Facebook account in as soon as 18 months. In a statement, the former president said, “Next time I’m in the White House there will be no more dinners, at his request, with Mark Zuckerberg and his wife. It will be all business!”