Facebook Inc.’s COO Sheryl Sandberg said on Monday the world’s largest social network has no plans to lift its lock on US President Donald Trump’s accounts as the company cracked down on a sentence which has become a rallying cry for supporters of the president.
Sandberg, speaking at the Reuters Next conference, said she was glad Facebook froze Trump’s accounts as tech giants scrambled to crack down on his baseless claims of fraud. US presidential election amid riots in Washington last week.
Hours later, the company banned the phrase “stop the flight” altogether, citing the use of the term to stage events challenging the outcome of the US presidential election that have a propensity for violence.
If Trump wanted to appeal the removal of his content, it could be done through the company’s new supervisory board, she added. Facebook said Trump could not appeal the actual suspension through the board.
“It shows that the president is not above the policies we have,” said Sandberg, speaking with Reuters Breaking Views columnist Gina Chon.
Facebook executives have long taken a light touch on the police speech posted by politicians, claiming that people have a right to see their executives’ statements.
The company backed down from this position somewhat and began labeling the president’s posts after facing a backlash this summer, including an advertiser boycott, when it refused to act against the inflammatory rhetoric of Trump around anti-racism protests across the United States.
He turned the tide and banned Trump indefinitely following riots last week, which resulted in the storming of the U.S. Capitol.
Facebook’s stock closed 4% lower on Monday, as social media actions against Trump raised investor concern over future regulations. Twitter, which permanently suspended Trump, fell more than 6% while Alphabet lost 2%.
Violent rhetoric on social media platforms, including Facebook, had escalated in the weeks leading up to the rallies, as groups openly planned the rallies, researchers and public publications say, prompting companies to criticize for not taking action in advance.
Sandberg acknowledged that Facebook may have missed some of these posts, but said she believed the events were largely held on other platforms.
She said the company was keeping an eye out for possible armed protests planned in Washington, DC and all 50 U.S. state capitals in the run-up to President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20, which sparked a FBI warning.
When asked why Facebook failed to take comparable action against other leaders like Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and President Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines, who were also accused of inciting online violence, Sandberg said the company’s policies would apply globally.
Sandberg has played a smaller public role at Facebook over the past year, even as CEO Mark Zuckerberg has thrown himself into the public sphere with a series of live chats and multiple sessions testifying before Congress.
The two were also faced with questions about their future at Facebook after the mid-year return of chief product officer Chris Cox, who left the previous year citing vague differences over the company’s direction.
Asked about the future for herself and Zuckerberg on Facebook, Sandberg said the two remain in their current roles.
“I’m staying,” she said, adding that she and Zuckerberg feel we have a real responsibility to fix systems that weren’t working previously in order to protect our service and make sure great things can happen. Sandberg added.
Sandberg also denied reports that she was sidelined as Zuckerberg took a more active role in content policy and government relations, her traditional areas of responsibility.
“People love the headlines about corporate drama, and I think it’s fair to say that they especially love the headlines about sidelining women. But I feel extremely lucky to have this job because there is so much good, ”she said.
Sandberg said the regulatory pressure on US tech companies around antitrust issues was “very real,” warning that a similar review two decades ago was a “major distraction” for Microsoft Corp and caused it to miss the next phase. technological development.
“We know this story and we must both work on these serious problems, work with the government, work to reform the rules that govern us – which must be reformed – and continue to innovate,” she said.