Facebook’s Oversight Board ruled that the indefinite suspension of Trump was arbitrary but only ordered a reevaluation of Trump’s ban within six months.
The Oversight Board has upheld Facebook’s decision to suspend Mr. Trump’s access to post content on Facebook and Instagram on January 7, 2021. However, as Facebook suspended Mr. Trump’s accounts ‘indefinitely,’ the company must reassess this penalty.
Within six months of this decision, Facebook must reexamine the arbitrary penalty it imposed on January 7 and decide the appropriate penalty. This penalty must be based on the gravity of the violation and the prospect of future harm. It must also be consistent with Facebook’s rules for severe violations, which must, in turn, be clear, necessary, and proportionate.
If Facebook decides to restore Mr. Trump’s accounts, the company should apply its rules to that decision, including any changes made in response to the Board’s policy recommendations below. In this scenario, Facebook must address any further violations promptly and in accordance with its established content policies.
The Board also made several policy recommendations that call for more transparency and clarity in Facebook’s rules, and importantly a faster response to the statements of politicians or influential accounts that can create harm. The Board called on Facebook to dedicate more resources, including a specialized team to assess harm from influential global accounts.
Most importantly, the Board wants Facebook to review its role in January 6th attack on the Capitol.
This is not the decision that Trump wanted, as the Board is clearly trying to set up an accountability process for both users and Facebook. If Trump gets his account back at some points, it will come with strikes and be on thin ice.
Facebook could decide to keep their ban in place, or they could decide to restore his account with the warning that any more violations will result in his account being deleted.
Facebook has massive transparency and accountability issues. This ruling could be the beginning of a clean-up, but it also means that Donald Trump did not win and get his account back yet.
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Mr. Easley is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association