May 9, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Facebook oversight board co-chair: Trump egged on Jan. 6 Capitol riot

Former President Trump's comments during the Jan. 6 Capitol attack egged on the rioters, said Michael McConnell, co-chair of Facebook's independent Oversight Board, to Fox News Sunday.

Why it matters: McConnell said Trump's comments posted to social media — in which the former president asked the mob to go home, while falsely claiming the 2020 election had been stolen from him — were a key reason for the board upholding Facebook's continued suspension of Trump's account.

What they're saying: "On Jan. 6, President Trump issued those 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, and at that time, he issued these statements which were just egging [them] on — with perfunctory asking for peace, but mostly he was just egging them on — to continue."

  • "This is a plain violation of Facebook's rules against praising dangerous individuals and organizations at a time of violence," he said. "Mr. Trump is subject to the same rules on Facebook as everyone else."

McConnell added that although the board found Facebook was justified in suspending Trump's account, the social media site was not justified in taking the former president's statements down indefinitely.

  • "They did not provide any reasons for that, that is not a provision in their rules, that was wrong. And we gave them a certain amount of time to get their house in order," he said.
  • "They needed some time because their rules are in shambles. 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."

What to watch: The board has "insisted" that Facebook find a "proportionate response" within six months.

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