Facebook’s Oversight Board will decide whether to restore Donald Trump’s access to that platform and Instagram. Both services locked the former president out of his accounts for 24 hours earlier this month over policy violations in the wake of the US Capitol riot. Facebook later extended those bans at least through President Joe Biden’s inauguration.
We think our decision to suspend former President Trump was right, but we don’t think we should make these calls on our own. Given the significance, we referred this decision to the @OversightBoard. During review, Mr. Trump’s access will remain suspended. https://t.co/CnMa2PYoDq
— Facebook Newsroom (@fbnewsroom) January 21, 2021
Facebook officials maintain that suspending Trump's accounts was the right call. But given the significance of the decision, it has referred the case to the Oversight Board. Trump will remain locked out of Facebook and Instagram until the board makes its ruling.
"Whether you believe the decision was justified or not, many people are understandably uncomfortable with the idea that tech companies have the power to ban elected leaders. Many argue private companies like Facebook shouldn’t be making these big decisions on their own. We agree," Nick Clegg, Facebook’s vice president of global affairs and communications, wrote in a blog post. "It would be better if these decisions were made according to frameworks agreed by democratically accountable lawmakers. But in the absence of such laws, there are decisions that we cannot duck."
The Oversight Board has accepted the case. As ever, Facebook will have to abide by its decision. “The Board was created to address exactly these kinds of issues,” board members said in a statement. “We provide a critical independent check on Facebook’s decisions which have huge implications for global human rights and free expression. This case is important for people in the US, and around the world.”
The Oversight Board has accepted a case from Facebook to examine their decision to indefinitely suspend former US President Donald Trump from access to Facebook and Instagram. 1/5 https://t.co/qG6KC6qYDi
— Oversight Board (@OversightBoard) January 21, 2021
A five-member panel will assess whether the content that led to Trump's ban violated Facebook's rules and values. "They will also consider whether Facebook’s removal of the content respected international human rights standards, including on freedom of expression and other human rights," the Oversight Board said. Board members will vote on the decision after the the panel shares its findings with them.
Trump will be able to submit a statement explaining why he thinks the ban should be overturned. The Oversight Board will also accept public comments on the case starting next week.
Under its bylaws, the board has to rule on the case within 90 days. It will publish the ruling on its website, along with an explanation. Facebook will have a week to act on the decision and 30 days to issue a public response to any policy recommendations the board makes.