Former Trump advisor and felony fraud defendant Steve Bannon sure has been making headlines this month. First, he called for the murder and public dismemberment of two of the nation’s top officials in his WAR ROOM: Pandemic podcast, leading Facebook and several other social media platforms to remove the episode or ban his podcast altogether. Then, just this week he got caught leading a network of misinformation pages on Facebook that collectively gained over 2.45 million followers before the platform finally cracked down.
But Facebook purportedly doesn’t consider this enough to earn a ban, prompting the question: Then what the hell is?
CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Bannon has not violated enough of the platform’s policies to warrant suspending his account, per a recording of an all-hands staff meeting reviewed by Reuters.
“We have specific rules around how many times you need to violate certain policies before we will deactivate your account completely,” he said in reply to an employee’s question about why Bannon had not yet been banned. “While the offenses here, I think, came close to crossing that line, they clearly did not cross the line.”
Bannon’s political beliefs are likely one of the reasons Facebook is cutting him so much slack. The platform has historically held back on penalizing right-wing outlets and influencers, particularly when it comes to violations of its policies against spreading misinformation, to avoid adding fuel to the GOP’s conspiracy theory about its supposed anti-conservative bias.
Facebook also has an awful track record of moderating dangerous viral content on its platform just in general. Remember that network of misinformation pages I mentioned? Yeah, Facebook apparently had zero clue about it and only cracked down after a third-party activist group notified them that something was up. Facebook did not immediately respond to Gizmodo’s request for comment.
Bannon was arrested in August on charges of defrauding hundreds of thousands of donors to the 2018 “We Build the Wall” campaign, an effort that raised more than $25 million to help President Donald Trump make good on his promise to erect a physical barrier spanning the U.S.-Mexico border. He’s pleaded not guilty in the scandal.
At the same all-hands meeting, Zuckerberg also reportedly told staff that Democratic nominee Joe Biden is the election’s clear winner even as Facebook continues struggling to suppress the spread of election misinformation.
“I believe the outcome of the election is now clear and Joe Biden is going to be our next president,” Zuckerberg said in audio of the meeting obtained by BuzzFeed News. “It’s important that people have confidence that the election was fundamentally fair, and that goes for the tens of millions of people that voted for Trump.”