Will Trump be back on Facebook in 6 months? Board calls indefinite suspension 'inappropriate', insists on review

The Board insisted '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'


                            Will Trump be back on Facebook in 6 months? Board calls indefinite suspension 'inappropriate', insists on review
Former U.S. President Donald Trump addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) held in the Hyatt Regency on February 28, 2021, in Orlando, Florida (Getty Images)

On May 5, Wednesday, an announcement titled 'Case decision 2021-001-FB-FBR' was made on Oversightboard.com regarding Facebook's ban on Donald Trump. The case summary claimed that "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."

This case further asked for a team at Facebook to seek that the matter of Donald Trump's ban on the social media platform is reconsidered. The case summary added, "The Board insists that 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 also made policy recommendations for Facebook to implement in developing clear, necessary, and proportionate policies that promote public safety and respect freedom of expression."

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What is the Oversight Board? 

This board is responsible for upholding the ban that the social media platform has imposed on former President Donald Trump. The panel of about 20 people, including academics and political leaders, helped Facebook uphold the ban that has been put in place since the Capitol riots took place in January. The board is based in London and was started a year ago by Facebook to deliberate on the company’s content decisions. 

This board was started to help people appeal Facebook's decisions of removing any form of content that they deem violates their terms and conditions. It was conceived by Facebook’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, who wanted to form a body that was similar to the Supreme Court in its working. He had said at this time that neither his company nor he would want to have the final word on the decision. 

Will Donald Trump return to Facebook?

The board said the suspension of the account was not appropriate, saying, "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," and then sharing, "However, it was not appropriate for Facebook to impose an ‘indefinite’ suspension. It is not permissible for Facebook to keep a user off the platform for an undefined period, with no criteria for when or whether the account will be restored. In applying this penalty, Facebook did not follow a clear, published procedure. ‘Indefinite’ suspensions are not described in the company’s content policies. 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 also did not appreciate that Facebook would leave the decision to them and explained, "It is Facebook’s role to create necessary and proportionate penalties that respond to severe violations of its content policies. The Board’s role is to ensure that Facebook’s rules and processes are consistent with its content policies, its values and its human rights commitments. In applying a vague, standardless penalty and then referring this case to the Board to resolve, Facebook seeks to avoid its responsibilities. The Board declines Facebook’s request and insists that Facebook apply and justify a defined penalty."

If Facebook does follow up on the Board's decision, the chances of Donald Trump's suspension being lifted are high. 

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