Elizabeth Warren said Wednesday that Facebook’s decision to uphold its ban on former President Donald Trump’s account further exhibits Big Tech has too much power and needs to be broken up.
‘I’m glad that Donald Trump is not going to be on Facebook,’ the progressive senator from Massachusetts clarified to Yahoo Finance. ‘Suits me.’
‘But part two is that this is just further demonstration that these giant tech companies are way, way, way too powerful,’ she asserted during an interview.
‘They need to be broken up in order to keep commerce flourishing,’ she said, echoing her calls during her 2020 bid to be the Democratic nominee for president.
On Wednesday, Facebook announced that its Oversight Board – it’s so-called Supreme Court – had decided to ban Trump from that platform and Instagram for another six months after issuing an indefinite ban the day after the January 6 Capitol attack, for which Democrats claim the former president is responsible.
Of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg calling the Oversight Board the ‘Supreme Court’, Warren said: ‘Listen to the arrogance of it.’
Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren said Wednesday that Facebook upholding its ban on Donald Trump’s account proves Big Tech is ‘way too power’
Facebook’s oversight board, which CEO Mark Zuckerberg (pictured above) called its ‘Supreme Court’, decided Wednesday to indefinitely ban Trump from Facebook and Instagram after issuing a temporary ban the day after the January 6 Capitol attack
‘The name of the group that made the decision is called the Supreme Court,’ the Democrat congresswoman bemoaned. ‘I missed the part where those people had hearings in front of Congress, and were voted on before they were made decision makers with this kind of authority.’
‘We need to break up these big tech companies,’ she added.
Warren later noted: ‘They have too much influence and they pose a threat to our democracy. Time to enforce our antitrust laws.’
She also complained in a tweet Wednesday that Facebook is a disinformation machine.
‘Facebook profits off of disinformation,’ she wrote. ‘That was true when Donald Trump was allowed on the platform, and it’s still true today. He should be banned for good, but that won’t solve the larger problem. We still need to rein in disinformation and protect our democracy.
Trump said in a statement Thursday that Big Tech companies banning him from the website are just another way to dismiss his claims of widespread voter fraud and a ‘rigged’ 2020 election.
After January 6, Twitter and YouTube also banned Trump. On January 8, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey decided to permanently ban Trump, even though he was still president at the time.
Trump created other ways to communicate with supporters, including sending out statements from two separate email accounts – his Save America PAC, which comes more frequently and in the former president’s voice, and his Office of the 45th President, which usually sends out more official statements written by his team.
This week, Trump unveiled a new webpage called ‘From the Desk of Donald J. Trump’, where he publishes statements that usually go out from his PAC email account, along with a few other related posts. The posts appear in a Twitter timeline-like way.
‘The Fake News Media, working in close conjunction with Big Tech and the Radical Left Democrats, is doing everything they can to perpetuate the term ‘The Big Lie’ when speaking of 2020 Presidential Election Fraud,’ Trump complained in a statement on Thursday.
Trump’s team created a Twitter account Wednesday to post those statements, potentially in a way to circumvent his ban on the site and better communicate with supporters. Trump was a prolific Twitter user and boasted 88 million followers.
Twitter immediately shut down @DJTDesk overnight for ‘violating Twitter rules.’
The new Trump website, which was launched earlier this week, allows fans to repost his statements to their own Facebook and Twitter feeds, a feature that is still active.
Trump released a statement Wednesday claiming the decision by Facebook to uphold its ban on his accounts is a ‘total disgrace’ and claimed Big Tech will pay a ‘political price’ for taking away his free speech.
In an email to supporters on Wednesday from his Save America political action committee, Trump fumed: ‘What Facebook, Twitter, and Google have done is a total disgrace and an embarrassment to our Country.
‘Free Speech has been taken away from the President of the United States because the Radical Left Lunatics are afraid of the truth, but the truth will come out anyway, bigger and stronger than ever before.
‘The People of our Country will not stand for it! These corrupt social media companies must pay a political price, and must never again be allowed to destroy and decimate our Electoral Process.’
Trump was banned from Facebook, Instagram and Twitter in January in response to the Capitol riot, which the social media sites claim he stoked. It was an unprecedented move of censorship on a world leader and sparked a global debate over how much control social media and big tech should have over free speech.
It was then turned over to Facebook’s Oversight Board to decide if it was the right thing to do.
The oversight board was set up by Facebook as an apparent self-check mechanism, amid growing calls for it to be split up because it is too powerful.
It is funded by Facebook- all of its 20 left-leaning members are paid six figures for doing approximately 15 hours of work a week. Its sole purpose is to rule on issues that are too big for Facebook or to make decisions it simply doesn’t want to.
But in their decision on Wednesday, the five deciding board members (who are not named) refused to rule either way.
Republicans reacted furiously and the decision has only galvanized their efforts to break Facebook up.
The board justified their refusal by criticizing Facebook for not giving Trump a timeframe for how long the ban would last.
‘In applying a vague, standardless penalty and then referring this case to the Board to resolve, Facebook seeks to avoid its responsibilities. The Board declines Facebook’s request and insists that Facebook apply and justify a defined penalty,’ they said.
Wednesday’s decision not only tosses the decision back to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, but it also gives him another six months to consider what to do.
In the meantime, the former president remains offline and unable to communicate with his tens of millions of social media supporters.
The board also revealed that in its investigation of the issue, Facebook refused to answer questions about whether it played a role in the riot, and whether it continued to profit from ads that targeted Trump’s followers after he’d been banned.
‘There are two different standards: One for Donald Trump and one for another number of people on their sites who are suggesting things more nefarious than what the President has been accused of.
Former WH Chief of Staff Mark Meadows
In response to the decision, Facebook’s VP of Global Affairs, former UK Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, said: ‘We thank the oversight board for the care and attention they gave this case.
‘We will now consider the board’s guidance and develop a response that is clear and proportionate.
‘In the meantime, Mr. Trump’s accounts remain suspended.’
Republicans called it a ‘sad day for America’, ‘disgraceful’ and renewed calls to break up the Silicon Valley giant.
‘Disgraceful. For every liberal celebrating Trump’s social media ban, if the Big Tech oligarchs can muzzle the former President, what’s stopping them from silencing you?’ Texas Sen. Ted Cruz tweeted.
It’s clear that Mark Zuckerberg views himself as the arbiter of free speech.’
Mark Meadows, Trump’s former White House Chief of Staff, said in an interview with FOX: ‘It’s a sad day for America. It’s a sad day for Facebook, ‘cuz I can tell you, a number of members of Congress are now looking at, do they break up Facebook?
‘Do they make sure that they don’t have a monopoly?
‘There are two different standards: One for Donald Trump and one for another number of people on their sites who are suggesting things more nefarious than what the President has been accused of.’
Corey Lewandowski, one of Trump’s advisers, said: ‘Facebook and Twitter and others have clearly established two different sets of rules.
‘One if you’re a conservative or a Republican or have a different ideology than them and one if you’re a liberal.’
Tennessee Senator Marsha Blackburn said: ‘Facebook’s decision to uphold its ban on President Donald Trump is extremely disappointing. It’s clear that Mark Zuckerberg views himself as the arbiter of free speech.’
Texas Senator Ted Cruz was among Republicans who slammed the decision on Wednesday
‘I’m broadly supportive of the antitrust recommendations released by Rep. Ken Buck last October.
‘Current antitrust law needs to be amended to better handle competition in digital markets, antitrust agencies should be beefed up and they need to regulate mergers and acquisitions more strictly,’ Republican Study Committee Chairman Rep. Jim Banks told Fox News.
In its 11,000-word ruling, the board said that Trump ‘severely violated’ Facebook’s policies with his January 6 posts where he told rioters: ‘We love you, you’re very special.’
It also said he ‘created an environment where a serious risk of violence was possible’ by constantly claiming he was the victim of election fraud – which the board said was an ‘an unfounded narrative’.
‘As president, Mr. Trump had a high level of influence. The reach of his posts was large, with 35 million followers on Facebook and 24 million on Instagram.
‘Given the seriousness of the violations and the ongoing risk of violence, Facebook was justified in suspending Mr. Trump’s accounts on January 6 and extending that suspension on January 7,’ the decision reads in part.
‘However, it was not appropriate for Facebook to impose an ‘indefinite’ suspension.
‘It is not permissible for Facebook to keep a user off the platform for an undefined period, with no criteria for when or whether the account will be restored,’ the decision says.
ZUCKERBERG AND TRUMP – ONCE CORDIAL, NOW ENEMIES ON THE ISSUE OF FREE SPEECH
Years before he banned Trump from his sites, Zuckerberg went to the White House for dinner as part of an effort to work with government and not against it.
The Facebook chief was fiercely criticized by both his own employees as well as wide swaths of the public for not cracking down harder on the president’s most controversial posts.
In September 2019, Trump posted a photo of him shaking hands with Zuckerberg during a meeting in the Oval Office.
‘Nice meeting with Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook in the Oval Office today,’ the president wrote at the time.
Zuckerberg and Trump had dinner at the White House in the fall of 2019. The two men were joined by billionaire tech investor Peter Thiel. Thiel, one of Trump’s earliest supporters, was also one of Facebook’s initial investors. He remains a member of the company’s board of directors.
Zuckerberg met with Trump and other Republican lawmakers as well as prominent conservative commentators in recent years in an effort to ease censorship concerns.
Critics of Facebook had accused Zuckerberg of currying favor with Trump in order to head off any possible regulatory action by the federal government as it relates to the company’s business practices.
The relationship between the pair disintegrated throughout Trump’s presidency and came to a head at the Capitol riot.
Zuckerberg said the president used his Facebook page ‘to condone rather than condemn the actions of his supporters at the Capitol building’ and that allowing him to freely post in the final 13 days of his term would pose too great a risk.
‘The shocking events of the last 24 hours clearly demonstrate that President Donald Trump intends to use his remaining time in office to undermine the peaceful and lawful transition of power to his elected successor, Joe Biden,’ Zuckerberg wrote.
‘His decision to use his platform to condone rather than condemn the actions of his supporters at the Capitol building has rightly disturbed people in the US and around the world,’ the statement by Zuckerberg read.
‘We removed these statements yesterday because we judged that their effect – and likely their intent – would be to provoke further violence.
‘Following the certification of the election results by Congress, the priority for the whole country must now be to ensure that the remaining 13 days and the days after inauguration pass peacefully and in accordance with established democratic norms.
‘Over the last several years, we have allowed President Trump to use our platform consistent with our own rules, at times removing content or labeling his posts when they violate our policies.
‘We did this because we believe that the public has a right to the broadest possible access to political speech, even controversial speech.
‘But the current context is now fundamentally different, involving use of our platform to incite violent insurrection against a democratically elected government.’
Zuckerberg concluded: ‘We believe the risks of allowing the President to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great.
‘Therefore, we are extending the block we have placed on his Facebook and Instagram accounts indefinitely and for at least the next two weeks until the peaceful transition of power is complete.’
The ban on Trump was the first time the company had ever blocked a politician or world leader from using the site and the decision threw up a major question of Silicon Valley’s and the power it wields over free speech.
On the left, critics blamed Trump for the Capitol riot and demanded he be permanently removed.
On the right, fans and followers of the former President saw it as another step by Facebook and big tech – which is famously liberal – to squash conservative voices and stunt support for Republican candidates.
Trump hasn’t been able to post anything on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter since January 6
Trump himself has not yet indicated if he even wants to return to the site.
On Tuesday, the day before the decision, he launched his own blog-like section of his Save America website.
The platform – From The Desk of Donald J. Trump – is where he can directly share messages with fans, like he used to.
Crucially, people can share the posts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, even though Trump is banned from the sites.
Twitter permanently banned him after the riot.
On Tuesday, CFO Ned Segal said they would not be reinstating him no matter what the oversight board’s decision was.
FACEBOOK REFUSED TO ANSWER IF IT STILL MADE MONEY ON ADS THAT TARGETED TRUMP’S FOLLOWERS AFTER BANNING HIM
Facebook’s Oversight Board has revealed that the social media giant refused to answer seven of its 46 questions over the Trump ban, including some about what role it played in the January 6 riot and if advertisers could still target Trump’s followers after he was banned.
‘The questions that Facebook did not answer included questions about how Facebook’s news feed and other features impacted the visibility of Mr. Trump’ s content; whether Facebook researched, or plans to research, those design decisions in relation to the events of January 6, 2021; and information about violating content from followers of Mr. Trump’s accounts.
‘The Board also asked…whether suspension or deletion impacts the ability of advertisers to target the accounts of followers.
‘Facebook states that this information was not reasonable required for decision making in accordance with the intent of the Charter; was not technically feasible to provide; was covered by attorney/client privilege; and/or could not or should not be provided because of legal, privacy or data protection concerns.
‘Facebook states that this information was not reasonable required for decision making in accordance with the intent of the Charter.’
‘Well, there has been no changes to anything we have shared in the past around the former president’s account.
‘When you step back and think about our policies, we want to work hard to be consistent, to be transparent so people know exactly what to expect from us.
‘We don’t have an oversight board like that.
‘Our team is accountable for the decisions that we make.
‘There is no changes to anything we have talked about in the past,’ he told Yahoo Finance Live.
Of course one of the one of the favorite artists, so to speak, on the part of some Twitter users was President Trump, who is no longer on the platform, at least not right now,
Facebook followed suit then, amid widespread criticism of the decision, turned it over the oversight board to rule on whether or not he should be censored.
The board is meant to be impartial and independent; Facebook cannot overrule it, but it pays the salaries of everyone on the board.
It took months to announce its first decisions in January.
Of five cases, it overturned Facebook’s decision in four and upheld one.
Trump’s case is by far the most high profile. After he was banned, the board received 9,000 public complaints from people saying Facebook had overstepped its authority.
Before announcing the decision, the board tweeted a ‘reminder’ of how it processes cases on Monday.
First, it selects the cases to decide on based on what affects the highest number of people.
Five members then deliberate. They base their decision on whether or not the user has violated any terms of service.
Then, the five-person panel speaks with the user and with Facebook, before delivering a draft decision to the rest of the board.
A final decision is then posted on its website. Facebook can respond to the decision within thirty days, and it has just seven days to implement the decisions.
The decision on Wednesday was hotly anticipated.
Politicians, free speech experts and activists around the world are watching the decision closely.
It has implications not only for Trump but for tech companies, world leaders and people across the political spectrum – many of whom have wildly conflicting views of the proper role for technology companies when it comes to regulating online speech and protecting people from abuse and misinformation.
Whether or not Trump will actually want to return to the site remains unclear.
After an initial period of quietness, he started emailing out statements in the form of press releases to journalists and subscribers several weeks ago.
Then on Tuesday, he launched his communications platform – From The Desk of Donald Trump.
His spokesman Jason Miller has insisted it is not a social media website – though Trump has hinted that he may launch one of those too.
‘President Trump´s website is a great resource to find his latest statements and highlights from his first term in office, but this is not a new social media platform.
Former President Donald Trump launched a webpage, www.DonaldJTrump.com/desk, which allows supporters to share the statements Trump has been emailing to the press to their social media platforms
The former president unveiled the website where only he can upload content, and doesn’t let users interact, as he teased to supporters they will be ‘very, very happy’ when they hear his decision about running for the White House again
‘We´ll have additional information coming on that front in the very near future,’ Miller said.
He has also spoken in interviews about running again in 2024 but hasn’t formally announced yet.
During his presidency, one of his biggest fights against Silicon Valley and the power it wields over the world.
He was among Republicans who thought the companies, particularly Facebook and Google, have too much power and influence over every day Americans.
By banning him, Twitter and Facebook played into that rhetoric and only enthused his fans and followers who have long believed that he is unfairly censored by the media and left-leaning big tech.
Facebook went one step further by then banning an interview he took part in with his daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, from its sites.
The interview was for Lara’s online show – The Right View with Lara Trump – which has a huge conservative following on Instagram and Facebook.
It was the first on-camera interview Trump gave after leaving office.
But Facebook scrubbed videos of it from Lara’s page, telling her it was also banning ‘the voice of Trump’ from its platforms.
Phone interviews he gave to FOX and other major news outlets were allowed to stay online.
FACEBOOK’S ‘SUPREME COURT’: THE 20 OVERSIGHT BOARD MEMBERS
Afia Asantewaa Asare-Kyei – A human rights advocate who works on women’s rights, media freedom and access to information issues across Africa at the Open Society Initiative for West Africa.
Evelyn Aswad – A University of Oklahoma College of Law professor who formerly served as a senior State Department lawyer and specializes in the application of international human rights standards to content moderation issues
Endy Bayuni – A journalist who twice served as the editor-in-chief of The Jakarta Post, and helps direct a journalists’ association that promotes excellence in the coverage of religion and spirituality.
Catalina Botero Marino, co-chair – A former U.N. special rapporteur for freedom of expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States who now serves as dean of the Universidad de los Andes Faculty of Law.
Katherine Chen – A communications scholar at the National Chengchi University who studies social media, mobile news and privacy, and a former national communications regulator in Taiwan.
Nighat Dad – A digital rights advocate who offers digital security training to women in Pakistan and across South Asia to help them protect themselves against online harassment, campaigns against government restrictions on dissent, and received the Human Rights Tulip Award.
Jamal Greene, co-chair – A Columbia Law professor who focuses on constitutional rights adjudication and the structure of legal and constitutional argument.
Pamela Karlan – A Stanford Law professor and Supreme Court advocate who has represented clients in voting rights, LGBTQ+ rights, and First Amendment cases, and serves as a member of the board of the American Constitution Society. Karlan had been asked to describe the differences between a U.S. president and a king during Trump’s impeachment hearing when she brought up the first son’s name. ‘The Constitution says there can be no titles of nobility, so while the president can name his son Barron, he can’t make him a baron,’ Karlan told lawmakers. She later apologized.
Tawakkol Karman – A Nobel Peace Prize laureate who used her voice to promote nonviolent change in Yemen during the Arab Spring, and was named as one of ‘History’s Most Rebellious Women’ by Time magazine.
Maina Kiai – A director of Human Rights Watch’s Global Alliances and Partnerships Program and a former U.N. special rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association who has decades of experience advocating for human rights in Kenya.
Sudhir Krishnaswamy – A vice chancellor of the National Law School of India University who co-founded an advocacy organization that works to advance constitutional values for everyone, including LGBTQ+ and transgender persons, in India.
Ronaldo Lemos – A technology, intellectual property and media lawyer who co-created a national internet rights law in Brazil, co-founded a nonprofit focused on technology and policy issues, and teaches law at the Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro.
Michael McConnell, co-chair – A former U.S. federal circuit judge who is now a constitutional law professor at Stanford, an expert on religious freedom, and a Supreme Court advocate who has represented clients in a wide range of First Amendment cases involving freedom of speech, religion and association.
Julie Owono – A digital rights and anti-censorship advocate who leads Internet Sans Frontières and campaigns against internet censorship in Africa and around the world.
Emi Palmor – A former director general of the Israeli Ministry of Justice who led initiatives to address racial discrimination, advance access to justice via digital services and platforms and promote diversity in the public sector.
Alan Rusbridger – A former editor-in-chief of The Guardian who transformed the newspaper into a global institution and oversaw its Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage of the Edward Snowden disclosures. He was editor of the left-leaning Guardian newspaper for 20 years, which was chosen by Edward Snowden to publicise his NSA leaks and campaigned against the extradition of Julian Assange to the United States.
András Sajó – A former judge and vice president of the European Court of Human Rights who is an expert in free speech and comparative constitutionalism.
John Samples – A public intellectual who writes extensively on social media and speech regulation, advocates against restrictions on online expression, and helps lead a libertarian think tank.
Left to right: Nicolas Suzor and Helle Thorning-Schmidt
Nicolas Suzor – A Queensland University of Technology Law School professor who focuses on the governance of social networks and the regulation of automated systems, and has published a book on internet governance.
Helle Thorning-Schmidt, co-chair – A former prime minister of Denmark who repeatedly took stands for free expression while in office and then served as CEO of Save the Children. The social democrat was elected in 2011 on a pro-immigration, high tax manifesto before losing power in 2015.