Facebook’s Oversight Board has upheld the social media company’s decision to ban Donald Trump but called for a separate review to establish a “proportionate” response that is “consistent” with the rules applied to other users.
The “quasi-judicial” group gave Facebook six months to complete the review and respond to a number of recommendations, including a clearer policy for world leaders. Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts will remain suspended during this period.
Facebook indefinitely suspended the former US president on 7 January after he used his social media platform to spread conspiracies about the election and incite an insurrection at the US Capitol.
The Oversight Board said two posts by Trump violated Facebook and Instagram policy prohibiting praise or support of people engaged in violence.
It said that Trump’s unfounded claims of electoral fraud and calls to action “created an environment where a serious risk of violence was possible.”
But it took issue with the indefinite nature of the ban because there was no precedent for it, nor is it within Facebook’s own policy rules.
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“It was not appropriate for Facebook to impose the indeterminate and standardless penalty of indefinite suspension,” the Oversight Board said in a statement. “Facebook’s normal penalties include removing the violating content, imposing a time-bound period of suspension, or permanently disabling the page and account.”
The recommendations of the Oversight Board are non-binding, but Facebook said it will “carefully review” them.
“We will now consider the board’s decision and determine an action that is clear and proportionate,” wrote Nick Clegg, VP of global affairs and communications at Facebook in a response to the Board’s decision.
In a statement, Trump said: “What Facebook, Twitter and Google have done is a total disgrace and an embarrassment to our country. Free speech has been taken away from the president of the United States because the radical left lunatics are afraid of the truth, but the truth will come out anyway, bigger and stronger than ever before.”
Facebook set up the Oversight Board in May 2020 to make rulings on content moderation decisions made across its social media platforms. Dubbed the “Facebook Supreme Court”, it comprises 20 members hailing from academia, journalism, human rights and law. While it operates independently the board’s costs are covered by Facebook.
Trump remains banned from Twitter following the Capitol riots.