Today Facebook’s Oversight Board (also known as the Supreme Court of Facebook) approved the continued suspension of Donald Trump’s accounts on Facebook and Instagram. This decision was immediately celebrated and correctly made to prevent the future incitement to violence, which Trump has already shown that he has no compunctions toward avoiding.
The decision, once people read it, turned out to be more nuanced in that it also called for Facebook itself to be more forthright about the time span of a suspension period.
The Oversight Board actually went to extraordinary lengths to make their rationale known. Here is the email that I received this morning:
The Oversight Board has issued its decision regarding former U.S. President Donald Trump’s ‘indefinite suspension’ from Facebook and Instagram following the events of January 6, 2021.
You can read the full case decision here.
The Oversight Board found that the suspension of Mr. Trump was necessary to protect public safety. However, the Board rejected Facebook’s ‘indefinite suspension’. Facebook failed to apply its normal rules on accounts that severely violate its content policies. Instead, it invented a vague and arbitrary penalty which gave Facebook total discretion on when to impose and lift the suspension. Anyone concerned about Facebook’s power should be concerned with the company making decisions outside of its own rules.
The Board has given Facebook a maximum of six months in which to either permanently disable Trump’s account or impose a new suspension for a specific period of time. Amongst several recommendations in the decision, the Board proposes that in the future if a head of state or high government official repeatedly posts messages that pose a risk of harm, Facebook should suspend the account for a specific period sufficient to protect against imminent harm and to deter misconduct and may, if appropriate, delete the account.
If Facebook opts to impose another suspension they must assess whether restoring Mr. Trump’s access is likely to lead to harm. Mr. Trump will remain suspended until Facebook has reexamined the penalty.
The Oversight Board’s decision safeguards freedom of speech while ensuring that Facebook creates clear, consistent and transparent rules regarding account penalties and restrictions.
Finally, with over 9,000 public comments submitted from around the world, we want to sincerely thank you for all your input into this case. We hope that you continue to remain engaged in the work of the Board!
If you would like to learn more about the decision, we encourage you to join the Aspen Institute’s panel discussion at 11:00am EDT. Register here.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out.
The Oversight Board Engagement Team
Various media accounts have rather shamefully sensationalized this decision by making it sound like it was still possible for Trump to get his social media megaphone back in future.
The Oversight Board’s decision is well-reasoned and balanced, taking into account public safety as well as making Facebook responsible for following its own rules. The sensationalism being applied to this by media outlets is highly irresponsible and frankly is what created the problem of Trump in the first place.
Let’s be honest, Trump was able to dominate the media landscape for years by being an outright and outrageous liar. The man is pure click bait. Media outlets, with the migration of news from print to pixels, became addicted to the clicks Trump could generate. And that addiction was a drug that was impossible to withdraw from. And like all addictions there is a price. Only this time the price was actual human lives. Trump’s reign cost more American lives than almost all the wars we fought combined. And then there was the attempted coup.
He should never be allowed back on any media platform at all and the world would benefit from that immensely.
Just as the profits of weapons of war and the profits of addictive drugs are blood money, so are the profits of advertising generated by promoting a death monger like Trump. Forever may he be banned.