Facebook’s oversight board to rule on Trump ban

Tech

FILE – President Donald Trump speaks to crowd before boarding Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. Facebook’s quasi-independent oversight board will decide whether the company’s decision to ban Trump indefinitely from its platform for inciting his supporters to storm the Capitol was the right one. The social media giant said Thursday that it is referring the final decision on Trump’s account to the board, though it believes it made the right choice. ,(AP Photo/Luis M. Alvarez)

OAKLAND, Calif. (NewsNation Now) — Facebook said on Thursday it was referring its decision to indefinitely suspend the accounts of former President Donald Trump to its independent oversight board.

Trump will remain suspended while the board, a recently created body that can overrule the company’s decisions on content, reviews the decision.

Facebook blocked Trump’s access to his Facebook and Instagram accounts over concerns of further violent unrest following the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol by the former president’s supporters.

“I’m very confident of our case,” Facebook’s head of global affairs, Nick Clegg, told Reuters. “I’m very confident that any reasonable person looking at the circumstances in which we took that decision and looking at our existing policies will agree.”

“But of course this is a decision which has had reverberations around the world,” he added.

Facebook’s panel is intended to rule on thorny content issues, such as when posts constitute hate speech — or if the decision to ban a world leader was the right one. It is empowered to make binding rulings — that is, ones that can’t be overturned by CEO Mark Zuckerberg — on whether posts or ads violate the company’s rules. Any other findings will be considered “guidance” by Facebook. The board does not set Facebook policies or decide if the company is doing enough to enforce them in the first place.

Its 20 members, which will eventually grow to 40, include a former prime minister of Denmark, the former editor-in-chief of the Guardian newspaper, along with legal scholars, human rights experts and journalists such as Tawakkol Karmanm, a Nobel Laureate and journalist from Yemen, and Julie Owono, a digital rights advocate.

The first four board members were directly chosen by Facebook. Those four then worked with Facebook to select additional members. Facebook also pays the board members’ salaries.

Twitter, by contrast, permanently banned Trump from its platform. CEO Jack Dorsey defended his company’s Trump ban in a philosophical Twitter thread last week, saying that resulting risk to public safety created an “extraordinary and untenable circumstance” for the company.

But he acknowledged that shows of strength like the Trump ban could set dangerous precedents, even calling them a sign of “failure.” He suggested that Twitter needs to find ways to avoid coming to have to make such decisions in the first place and lamented the fact that they highlight the extraordinary power that Twitter and other Big Tech companies can wield without accountability or recourse.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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