Facebook’s Oversight Board upheld the social network’s ban against former President Donald Trump Wednesday, and local party chairs in Santa Barbara County are falling on opposite sides in the aftermath of the decision.
The decision by Facebook’s advisory board, which is composed of journalists, activists and lawyers, will bar the former U.S. president from returning to the platform for at least another six months. During Wednesday’s deliberations, the board told Facebook executives that an indefinite suspension was “not appropriate” because it is not a penalty firmly outlined in the platform’s policies.
The advisors directed executives to make a final decision on Mr. Trump’s profile status in the next six months.
After Wednesday’s decision was announced, Republicans and Democrats fell on opposite sides of the matter.
Bobbi McGinnis, the county’s Republican chairwoman, called Facebook’s action “censorship,” likening it to the actions of communist regimes in China and Russia.
“It sounds to me like Facebook is using the policy of China to monitor Americans,” Ms. McGinnis told the News-Press. “That doesn’t seem right in America.”
She added, “I personally think people need to stop using those platforms until (social networks) meet American standards.”
Ms. McGinnis herself has been banned from Facebook for three or four days after posting an ad for a social event with the word “patriot” in it, she said. While her ban was just for a few days, Ms. McGinnis called banning politicians “unamerican.”
“(Having my account banned) just showed me the power of the social media companies,” Ms. McGinnis said. “They are powerful, and if they are not following American standards, then what standards are they following? Are they following Russia and China and enforcing those standards in America? Freedom of speech is what is separating us from these communist countries.”
While conservative activists are calling Facebook’s action censorship, some Democrats disagree.
Darcel Elliott, the county’s Democratic chairwoman, said she thought the advisory board made the right decision to extend Mr. Trump’s ban on Facebook. Ms. Elliott said the only exception to free speech is inciting violence, which she said was evident in Mr. Trump’s media post leading up to the Jan. 6 invasion of the Capitol.
“I think inciting violence on social media should be enough to get anyone banned from social media … Inciting violence is the one exception to freedom of speech,” Ms. Elliott told the News-Press. “It’s always been the one way where you can get around freedom of speech. So it’s not really censorship because we’ve always tried to curtail people who incite violence. The Jan. 6 insurrection was just that.”
The decision from Facebook comes as a chasm is forming between House Republicans who remain supportive of Mr. Trump and those who have voiced disagreement with his actions.
On Wednesday, top Republicans devised plans to remove Liz Cheney, the No. 3 House Republican and the Republican Conference Chair, after she vocally rejected Mr. Trump’s claims of election fraud. Republicans have discussed elevating Elise Stefanik of New York, a loyalist of Mr. Trump, to take Ms. Cheney’s place.
Both Ms. McGinnis and Ms. Elliott said they are more focused on local politics than issues in the House, but both were aware of Ms. Cheney’s situation. Ms. McGinnis, a supporter of Mr. Trump, said she believes the majority of House Republicans support Mr. Trump, but added that Ms. Cheney was entitled to a different opinion.
Locally, tensions are rising between local Democrats and Republicans as the state moves closer to a recall election against Gov. Gavin Newsom. Though a date for the election has not been set, multiple Republicans, including businessman John Cox and former Olympian Caitlyn Jenner, have announced their bid for the governor’s seat should the recall receive enough support.
As the election looms, Ms. Elliott said the state’s Democratic Party is campaigning “intensely” for California voters to vote “no” to the recall on their ballot. In recent weeks, Gov. Newsom has expressed confidence that he can defeat any candidate who would rise up to take the position.
“We’re really intensely focused on this and have huge operations throughout the state to fight back against the recall,” Ms. Elliott said. “We’re not taking it for granted.”
Though it is still uncertain whether the recall effort will receive enough support to oust Gov. Newsom from office, Ms. McGinnis said she sees this as a chance for a Republican to take their seat at the head of the state. Currently, Ms. McGinnis said she sees potential in Kevin Faulconer, the former mayor of San Diego, and Ms. Jenner.
“I think (Ms. Jenner) is somebody who could do a really good job as governor,” Ms. McGinnis said. “I was pleasantly surprised how much she knew about the need for positive change in California.”