Facebook Refers Trump Ban To Its Oversight Board

Facebook Inc.’s independent oversight board has accepted the company’s request that it review its decision to indefinitely suspend former President Donald Trump from Facebook and Instagram. 

Facebook implemented the ban for at least two weeks, following the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol by Trump followers and Trump’s posts before and after. 

“The shocking events of the last 24 hours clearly demonstrate that President Donald Trump intends to use his remaining time in office to undermine the peaceful and lawful transition of power to his elected successor, Joe Biden,” Facebook Inc. CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post. “We believe the risks of allowing the President to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great.” 

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In its post announcing that it will review Facebook’s suspension of Trump, the Oversight Board wrote: “A decision by the Board on this case will be binding on Facebook, and determine whether Mr. Trump’s suspension from access to Facebook and Instagram for an indefinite amount of time is overturned. Facebook has committed not to restore access to its platforms unless directed by a decision of the Oversight Board. Facebook must consider any accompanying policy recommendations from the Board, and publicly respond to them.” 

The self-appointed Facebook watchdog group that calls itself the Real Facebook Oversight Board, comprising tech experts, academics and civil rights leaders, issued its own statement in response. 

“Facebook failed for months to take action over Donald Trump’s repeated use of its platform to incite violence, spread disinformation and systematic attempts to subvert the election,” the group wrote. “Its abject failure to act undoubtedly played a role in the violent events that unfolded at the Capitol on January 6. American democracy survived in spite of Facebook”…  

“Facebook has utterly failed to acknowledge its role in these events. What’s more, its leadership was emboldened to act against Trump only after the Democrats’ victory in the Senate was assured,” the statement continues. “It took an attempted coup for Facebook to take up this case. We are concerned that Facebook is using its Oversight Board as a fig leaf to cover its lack of open, transparent, coherent moderation policies, its continued failure to act against inciters of hate and violence and the tsunami of mis- and disinformation that continues to flood its platform.”  

“Most Americans will wonder what Facebook would have done if Trump had won the election? Meanwhile, many citizens in India and Brazil wonder why their leaders are not held to the same benchmark as Donald Trump and, even now, are using the Facebook group of companies to incite violence and spread misinformation.” 

“We call for transparent predictable, published standards from Facebook and real, independent oversight from a body that hasn’t been handpicked by Facebook’s leadership, that operates openly in public view, and that hasn’t had its terms of reference set by Facebook. This case exposes the dangerous inadequacy of Facebook’s ability to police itself: it can’t. This underlines the urgent necessity for regulation now.”  

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