WASHINGTON — On Thursday, the Change the Terms coalition strongly urged the Facebook-funded Oversight Board to uphold the platform’s January decision to suspend the account of former President Donald Trump.
Change the Terms, which includes more than 60 racial-justice, human-rights, digital-rights and consumer-protection organizations, submitted a comment to the Oversight Board as part of the proceeding to determine whether Trump’s suspension was justified. Change the Terms argues that the Oversight Board must take into account Trump’s long history of hateful posts and violent incitement before ruling on the matter.
“The January 6 attack on the Capitol was not the first time that Trump’s Facebook activity led to violence,” the coalition writes. “Trump has a long history of racist, misogynist, anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, [and] anti-Semitic Facebook activity that has promoted, normalized, and emboldened white supremacist ideologies. A careful review of this activity and the violence it caused, from 2015 through now, is essential to your final decision.”
The Change the Terms comment (available here) documents the history of Trump’s hateful posts, which in many instances have resulted in actual violence.
Change the Terms made the following statement:
“Donald Trump has used Facebook as a bullhorn through which he’s spread violent and hateful rhetoric to rally millions of followers. His online posts have had serious real-world consequences, which the Oversight Board must take into full account before issuing any decision. In 2019, hate crimes in the United States reached their highest level in over a decade. This uptick in offline hate is not coincidental. The violent white-supremacist insurrection on January 6 was instigated by Trump’s rhetoric and election misinformation — not just during the White House rally that preceded the attack, but in his years of posts on Facebook, Instagram and other social networks.
“The resulting violence should come as no surprise to Facebook: Change the Terms has warned the company for years that its business decisions have fueled racist violence and white-supremacist organizing. Should the Oversight Board decide to reinstate Trump to Facebook’s platforms, he will continue to manipulate the company’s networks to incite racist, xenophobic and misogynist violence. Restoring Trump’s accounts would amount to a full-throated endorsement of bigotry and hatred. We will hold Facebook and the Oversight Board fully accountable for any violence that would follow. Facebook’s long-overdue decision to suspend Trump’s dangerous accounts must be upheld.”
Change the Terms is a coalition calling on technology companies to institute and enforce service-agreement prohibitions on hateful activities to protect public safety and respect diverse voices. The coalition includes more than 60 civil-rights, human-rights, digital-rights and consumer-protection organizations dedicated to encouraging internet companies, social-media sites, payment processors and chat services to commit to fair, effective and transparent rules and practices for content moderation.