Facebook’s independent Oversight Board ruled on Wednesday to uphold the social network’s suspension of former President Donald Trump’s account, but it said the company must review its decision within six months.l Dialog
It’s a monumental development that comes after Trump was suspended from Facebook, Twitter, and other social-media platforms following the deadly Capitol siege on January 6, which he’s been accused of inciting.
“The Board has upheld Facebook’s decision on January 7 to suspend then-President Trump from Facebook and Instagram. Trump’s posts during the Capitol riot severely violated Facebook’s rules and encouraged and legitimized violence,” the Oversight Board said in a tweet. But it added that it was “not appropriate” for the company to “impose the indeterminate and standardless penalty of indefinite suspension.”
“Facebook’s normal penalties include removing the violating content, imposing a time-bound period of suspension, or permanently disabling the page and account,” the board said, adding that it “insists Facebook review this matter to determine and justify a proportionate response that is consistent with the rules that are applied to other users of its platform.”
“Facebook must complete its review of this matter within six months of the date of this decision,” the board continued.
Wednesday’s decision cannot be overruled by any Facebook employee, including CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
Facebook first referred its decision on Trump’s account to the Oversight Board in late January. Since then, the board has invited the public to submit comments before its ruling, as it has done for all cases it’s reviewed.
Of the thousands of public comments the board said it received, one was from Trump, Channel 4 News reported. Trump has been an outspoken critic of the board, and The New Yorker reported that he called Zuckerberg personally to protest a member who had testified against Trump at his first impeachment.
Facebook launched the Oversight Board late last year in an effort to give more attention and resources to its content-moderation decisions. Though Facebook said the board – dubbed Facebook’s “Supreme Court” – is independent, the company has final discretion in deciding whether each ruling will apply only to the particular post in question or whether it will serve as precedent for similar content.
Since its creation in October, Facebook’s oversight body has already reviewed cases and has overturned the company’s decision in several. This is its first ruling related to the former president.
Trump, for his part, said he’s planning to launch his own social-media platform.
He also recently started a blog called From the Desk of Donald J. Trump, where he posts statements and videos that users can then share on social-media platforms.
“This system allows Trump to communicate with his followers,” a source familiar with the blog told Fox News.
That said, Trump’s allies privately believed that Facebook was “essential” to whether Trump runs for office again in 2024.
“Getting this account back is not only essential for his future political viability,” an anonymous source close to Trump told Axios. “It would also be an undoing of an unjust act by a social-media company that made an ad hoc ruling to deplatform a sitting president.”