“Within six months of this decision, Facebook must reexamine the arbitrary penalty it imposed on January 7,” the company’s oversight board said.
Former President Donald Trump’s Facebook account should remain suspended for the time being, the company’s oversight board announced Wednesday — agreeing that his rhetoric had created “a serious risk of violence” but saying the social network had been “arbitrary” in deciding to oust him indefinitely.
“Within six months of this decision, Facebook must reexamine the arbitrary penalty it imposed on January 7 and decide the appropriate penalty,” the board said in its ruling.
The decision comes nearly four months after Facebook suspended Trump’s account over fears he might incite additional violence following the Jan. 6. attack on the Capitol by his supporters. It has potentially huge implications for American politics, Trump’s future in the 2024 elections and the balance of power between world leaders and the U.S.-based social media giant — especially if it leads to the former president’s return to the world’s biggest social media platform.
Facebook has said the board’s decision would be binding, but that Trump remains booted for now. The company “will now consider the board’s decision and determine an action that is clear and proportionate,” Facebook’s global affair chief Nick Clegg said in a statement.
One clear message from the board: Facebook owns its decision in this case.
“Facebook must make its decision and be held accountable for whatever it decides,” Michael McConnell, a former Republican-appointed federal judge and a member of the oversight board, said during a call with reporters after the ruling was announced.
In upholding Facebook’s decision to suspend Trump, the board found that two of his posts the day of the storming of the Capitol “severely violated” the company’s rules against praising or supporting individuals engaged in violence, including his remarks referring those in the mob as “great patriots” and “very special.”
It also noted that Trump “created an environment where a serious risk of violence was possible” by spreading false claims about widespread voter fraud in the 2020 elections, and thus that Facebook was “justified” in suspending him.
But the panel rebuked the company for issuing an indefinite ban with no criteria for if or when Trump’s posts or account could be restored.
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