President Donald Trump did a whole lot of things between the Nov. 4, 2020, election and the Jan. 6 breach of Capitol Hill during a protest against the certification of the electoral college votes. Encouraging a group of protesters in a breach of the Capitol Building was simply not one of them.
Of course, this didn’t stop the Big Tech oligarchs of digital information from temporarily — and then permanently — banning him from their platforms under the pretenses that he had done just this, nor did it stop the D.C. political or legacy media establishments from leveraging this claim to initiate a second Trump impeachment.
Say what you will about Trump causing division, negating the results of the election and flatly accusing his opponents and even closest allies of lies and corruption, Trump simply never told the protesters to invade the Capitol, nor did he tell them to continue with the siege once it had begun.
Last week, Facebook’s Oversight Board, an “independent” panel of journalists, activists, and former politicians, upheld the tech giant’s decision to suspend President Trump.
Facebook originally banned Trump on Jan. 7 over posts he had issued as the mayhem at the Capitol was underway the day before. The network has maintained that these posts violated its Community Standards, and the panel agreed last week. Although there’s little evidence President Trump played a role in inciting the events of Jan. 6, many “official” bodies have uncritically accepted this opinion as fact.
“Trump’s posts during the Capitol riot severely violated Facebook’s rules and encouraged and legitimized violence,” the panel wrote in their decision.
The Board has upheld Facebook’s decision on January 7 to suspend then-President Trump from Facebook and Instagram. Trump’s posts during the Capitol riot severely violated Facebook’s rules and encouraged and legitimized violence. https://t.co/veRvWpeyCi
— Oversight Board (@OversightBoard) May 5, 2021
However, they also noted that Facebook was also not justified in the manner in which they banned Trump and gave them additional time to review the permanent ban.
“Within six months of this decision, Facebook must re-examine the arbitrary penalty it imposed on January 7 and decide the appropriate penalty,” they wrote.
“This penalty must be based on the gravity of the violation and the prospect of future harm. It must also be consistent with Facebook’s rules for severe violations, which must, in turn, be clear, necessary and proportionate,” the decision read.
Speaking with Fox News’ Chris Wallace on Sunday, a member of the oversight board declared Facebook’s rules are in “shambles,” yet firmly pointed to Trump’s supposed encouragement of violence when justifying their decision to uphold the ban.
“Mr. Trump is the one who issued those inflammatory posts at the very time when rioters were invading the Congress and shutting down the constitutionally prescribed process for counting electoral votes. He issued those posts. He is responsible for doing that. He bears responsibility for his own situation. He put himself in this bed, and he can sleep in it,” McConnell, a former federal judge, told Fox News Sunday.
“Mr. Trump is subject to the same rules on Facebook as everyone else, and the Oversight Board held that this was in fact a violation and thus Facebook was justified in taking them down,” he added.
Although admitting Trump had issued “perfunctory” calls for peace, McConnell claimed that Trump was still “just egging them on.
Now here’s the whole “there’s only one problem” part, and it’s a pretty big one.
At 4:21 on Jan. 6, the then-President issued a video on Facebook and Instagram addressing his followers in which stated, “I know your pain. I know you’re hurt. We had an election that was stolen from us. It was a landslide election, and everyone knows it, especially the other side, but you have to go home now. We have to have peace. We have to have law and order. We have to respect our great people in law and order.”
At 6:07, as law enforcement regained control of the Capitol Building, Trump posted to Facebook, “These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly unfairly treated for so long. Go home with love in peace. Remember this day forever!”
At 6:15, Trump’s posts were removed and he was banned from posting for 24 hours. The following day, he was suspended indefinitely.
His second post seemingly expressing sympathy with the rioters certainly isn’t the greatest look after said rioters had just broken into the citadel of democracy, to be sure, but it’s a far cry from “egging” the rioters on. There’s also the rather significant matter of his sending the National Guard to the capitol to control the rioters — what kind of insurrectionist quells his own insurgency movement, one might ask?
And I hardly need ask, but can anyone tell me which elected official has been permanently banned from a social network after expressing support for left-wing violence in the name of a cause they believed in?
It was Facebook’s incredibly fluid and subjective enforcement of their already fluid and subjective Community Standards that the board took issue with, as McConnell explained.
“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,” McConnell told Wallace of the social media giant, which he said “exercises too much power.”
“What we are trying to do is bring some of the most important principles of the First Amendment, of free expression law globally, into this operation. Facebook exercises too much power. They are arbitrary. They are inconsistent. And it is the job of the Oversight Board to try to bring some discipline to that process,” he said.
This is really nice talk from someone who just tried to convince us that President Donald Trump was “egging” on people who broke into the U.S. Capitol Building after he’d clearly urged them to comply with law enforcement and go home peacefully in no uncertain terms.
Sure, we’d all agree with this Oversight Board member’s scathing rebuke of Facebook — but is it remotely sincere considering how dishonest he’s being about the nature of Trump’s banned posts in the first place?
According to The New York Times, the whole concept of the Oversight Board was borne in the head of Mark Zuckerberg, who has nervously told Congress on more than one occasion that he’s totally, super-duper, utterly committed to objectivity and fairness.
Of course, mitigating content on his platform in a manner reminiscent of Orwell’s fictional Thought Police contradicts anything that might come out of his mouth.
If McConnell is any indication, the rest of the panel is just as mealy-mouthed and unreliable. If he’s so dishonest about the nature of Trump’s language on Jan. 6, how can we trust he’s honest in his resolve to hold Facebook to account for their arbitrary and unfair “Community Standards” and their censorship and suppression of the rest of us?
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