Donald Trump Will Remain Banned From Facebook, Board Rules
Facebook’s ‘Oversight Board’ has upheld a the Facebook ban imposed on Donald Trump earlier this year.
The decision means that the indefinite suspension given to Trump following the Capitol attack of January 6, does not have to be reversed.
Going forward, Facebook and Instagram will now have 90 days to act on this decision, handing down a penalty in line with the company’s rules and regulations.
Trump was initially handed a Facebook suspension for a period of 24 hours, after sharing two posts which appeared to praise the actions of those storming the Capitol. This ban was then extended to ‘at least until the end of his time in office’.
Facebook chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, gave the following statement at the time:
We believe the risks of allowing the president to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great.
Therefore, we are extending the block we have placed on his Facebook and Instagram accounts indefinitely … at least … until the peaceful transition of power is complete.
Facebook’s Oversight Board is a group established by Facebook with the purpose of reviewing its content decisions. In February, it was announced that the group – intended to operate separately to Facebook’s corporate leadership – would be looking into Trump’s suspension and would be taking public comments on the matter.
Formed in 2020, the mission of the board is ‘to promote free expression by making principled, independent decisions regarding content on Facebook and Instagram and by issuing recommendations on the relevant Facebook company content policy’.
As per a statement from the Board:
The Board found that, in maintaining an unfounded narrative of electoral fraud and persistent calls to action, Mr. Trump created an environment where a serious risk of violence was possible.
At the time of Mr. Trump’s posts, there was a clear, immediate risk of harm and his words of support for those involved in the riots legitimized their violent actions. As president, Mr. Trump had a high level of influence. The reach of his posts was large, with 35 million followers on Facebook and 24 million on Instagram.
Given the seriousness of the violations and the ongoing risk of violence, Facebook was justified in suspending Mr. Trump’s accounts on January 6 and extending that suspension on January 7.
However, the board also remarked that it had not been appropriate for Facebook ‘to impose an ‘indefinite’ suspension’ on Trump, arguing:
In applying a vague, standardless penalty and then referring this case to the Board to resolve, Facebook seeks to avoid its responsibilities.
Going forward, Facebook must now re-examine the penalty in six months time, at which point they must decide upon the ‘appropriate penalty’, a penalty which ‘must be based on the gravity of the violation and the prospect of future harm’.
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