Facebook oversight board upholds Donald Trump’s suspension

US & Canada

Facebook suspended the US president for inciting violence in the wake of the 2020 presidential election.

A semi-autonomous oversight board for the Facebook social media company has upheld a suspension of former President Donald Trump, but orders a review within six months.

“The Board has upheld Facebook’s decision on January 7, 2021, to restrict then-President Donald Trump’s access to posting content on his Facebook page and Instagram account,” the 20-person panel said in a statement.

However, the board determined it was “not appropriate for Facebook to impose the indeterminate and standardless penalty of indefinite suspension”.

It called on the social media goliath within six months to “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, which owns Instagram, suspended Trump a day after rioters stormed the US Capitol as legislators met to certify the victory of President Joe Biden. The incident followed a weeks long disinformation campaign by Trump and his allies that the election had been “stolen”.

“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 CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote on his Facebook page on January 7.

Other major social media platforms also booted Trump in the wake of the riot, with Twitter, where Trump has 88 million followers, saying its ban would be permanent.

Facebook’s oversight board was launched in October of 2020 amid an ongoing debate over the company’s ability to manage hate speech and misinformation on the platform.

Civil liberties advocates have also accused Facebook of limiting free speech.

The board’s 20 members, who will eventually grow to 40, include a former prime minister of Denmark and the former editor-in-chief of The Guardian newspaper, along with legal scholars, human rights experts and journalists.

The first four board members were directly chosen by Facebook. Those four then worked with Facebook to select additional members, leaving some to question the board’s independence.

This is a developing story. More soon.

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