Facebook announced Friday that the accounts belonging to former President Donald Trump would remain suspended for at least two years.
Trump's suspension is effective Jan. 7, 2021, meaning he is eligible for reinstatement on Jan. 7, 2023.
Facebook says at the end of the two-year period, it will look to experts to "assess whether the risk to public safety has receded."
"We will evaluate external factors, including instances of violence, restrictions on peaceful assembly and other markers of civil unrest," the company said in a statement. "If we determine that there is still a serious risk to public safety, we will extend the restriction for a set period of time and continue to re-evaluate until that risk has receded."
Facebook also said that upon Trump's reinstatement "there will be a strict set of rapidly escalating sanctions that will be triggered if Mr. Trump commits further violations in future, up to and including permanent removal of his pages and accounts."
Facebook suspended Trump's accounts on Jan. 7, the day after thousands of his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol in a deadly riot. In a Facebook post, company founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Trump would initially be suspended through Jan. 20 over “his decision to use his platform to condone rather than condemn the actions of his supporters at the Capitol building.”
A day after President Joe Biden took office on Jan. 21, Facebook said it would refer Trump’s future on its platforms to the Oversight Board — an outside group founded and funded by Facebook that makes decisions regarding content moderation on the company’s sites.
In May, the Oversight Board ruled that Facebook could allow Trump's suspension to continue, but only if the company decided on a specific length or made his ban permanent.
Facebook wasn’t alone in its decision to de-platform the then-president in January. Twitter and YouTube were among the other social media sites to remove Trump’s accounts. Twitter has since said it will never allow Trump to return to its platform; YouTube says it will reinstate Trump when an “elevated risk of violence” passes.
Other websites like online retailer Shopify also chose to remove Trump-affiliated accounts from their websites following the riots.
Until this week, Trump had been posting official statements to a blog, "From the Desk of Donald J. Trump." However, the site was shuttered on Wednesday and senior Trump aide Jason Miller told news outlets that it would not be returning. The New York Times and the Washington Post report that Trump was frustrated by the blog's low readership.
During the White House press briefing Friday, press secretary Jen Psaki said Facebook was free to make its own decisions regarding its platform but added that President Joe Biden believed that every platform has a crackdown on misinformation. She also added that she thought it was unlikely that Trump would change his online behavior, saying that it's "unlikely that the zebra will change its stripes."