Tech

Zuckerberg says in meeting Bannon has not violated enough policies for Facebook suspension

Key Points
  • Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg told an all-staff meeting on Thursday that former Trump White House adviser Steve Bannon had not violated enough of the company's policies to justify his suspension, according to a recording heard by Reuters.
  • Bannon suggested in a video last week that FBI Director Christopher Wray and government infectious diseases expert Anthony Fauci should be beheaded, saying they had been disloyal to U.S. President Donald Trump, who last week lost his re-election bid.
  • Facebook removed the video but left up Bannon's page.
Facebook Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies at a House Financial Services Committee hearing in Washington, U.S., October 23, 2019.
Erin Scott | Reuters

Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg told an all-staff meeting on Thursday that former Trump White House adviser Steve Bannon had not violated enough of the company's policies to justify his suspension, according to a recording heard by Reuters.

"We have specific rules around how many times you need to violate certain policies before we will deactivate your account completely," Zuckerberg said. "While the offenses here, I think, came close to crossing that line, they clearly did not cross the line."

Bannon suggested in a video last week that FBI Director Christopher Wray and government infectious diseases expert Anthony Fauci should be beheaded, saying they had been disloyal to U.S. President Donald Trump, who last week lost his re-election bid.

Facebook removed the video but left up Bannon's page. The company had not previously answered questions about those actions and did not immediately respond to a Reuters request about Zuckerberg's comments.

Twitter banned Bannon last week over the same content.

Zuckerberg spoke on the issue at a weekly forum with Facebook employees where he is sometimes asked to defend content and policy decisions, like the question on Thursday from a staff member asking why Bannon had not been banned.

Arrested in August, Bannon has pleaded not guilty to charges of defrauding hundreds of thousands of donors to the $25 million "We Build the Wall" campaign. Bannon has dismissed the charges as politically motivated.

As Trump's chief White House strategist, Bannon helped articulate Trump's "America First" policy. Trump fired him in August 2017, ending Bannon's turbulent tenure.

A spokesperson for Bannon issued the following statement to CNBC:

"Mr Bannon did not, would not and has never called for violence of any kind. Mr. Bannon's commentary was clearly meant metaphorically. He previously played a clip of St. Thomas More's trial and was making an allusion to this historical event in Tudor England for rhetorical purposes. Mr. Bannon has been openly critical of FBI Director Chris Wray for weeks and has called for his firing for his failure to investigate and address Hunter Biden's hard drive and that has been in Director Wray's possession since in Dec 2019. In addition, Mr. Bannon has supported comments from the White House calling for the immediate firing of Dr. Fauci."

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Steve Bannon pleads not guilty to defrauding border wall donors