Facebook, the world’s largest social network, has no plans to lift its block on the accounts of US President Donald Trump, as the company clamped down on a phrase “stop the steal” that was used by those who participated in last week’s riots at the US Capitol.
On Election Day, the slogan “stop the steal” became a rallying cry among Trump’s supporters, many of whom were egged on by Trump himself and his allies with false claims of election fraud.
According to the social media giant’s operations chief Sheryl Sandberg during the Reuters Next conference, she was glad that Facebook had frozen Trump’s accounts, which came as tech giants scrambled to crack down on his baseless claims about fraud in the US presidential election amid riots at the US Capitol.
Facebook executives have long taken a light touch to policing speech posted by politicians, maintaining that people have a right to see statements from their leaders.
The company backed down somewhat on that position and started applying labels to the president’s posts after facing a backlash this summer, including an advertiser boycott, when it declined to act against Trump’s incendiary rhetoric around anti-racism protests throughout the United States.
Sandberg acknowledged that Facebook may have missed some of those posts but said she believed the events were largely organised on other platforms. She said the company was keeping an eye on further possible armed protests being planned for Washington, DC and at all 50 US state capital cities in the run-up to President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Jan 20.
In the past year, the operation chief has played a less prominent public role at Facebook, even as CEO Mark Zuckerberg has thrown himself into the public sphere with a series of livestreamed chats and multiple sessions testifying before Congress.
Both have also faced questions about their future at the Facebook following the mid-year return of Chief Product Officer Chris Cox, who had left the year prior citing vague differences over the company’s direction.