Facebook Takes 6 Months to Decide if to Continue Trump’s Social Media Suspension

06 May 2021

    Facebook's oversight board has upheld the company's suspension of former US President - Donald Trump on Wednesday, but said the company was wrong to make the suspension indefinite and gave it six months to determine a "proportionate response."


    Trump called his banning across tech platforms "a total disgrace" and said the companies would "pay a political price”.


    The board, created by Facebook said the company was right to ban Trump following the Jan. 6 storming of the US Capitol by Trump supporters. Following this, Trump’s access to his Facebook and Instagram accounts has been blocked over concerns of further violent unrest.


    At the time of the suspension, Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said "the risks of allowing the president to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great." The company later referred the case to its recently established board, which includes academics, lawyers and rights activists.


    The decision means Trump will not for now be able to return to Facebook's platforms, where he had a combined 59 million followers across Facebook and Instagram. 


    Nevertheless, the board said Facebook should not have imposed an indeterminate suspension without clear standards, and said the company should determine a response consistent with rules applied to other users. It said Facebook could determine that Trump's account could be restored, suspended temporarily or permanently banned.


    "Indefinite penalties of this sort do not pass the international or American smell test for clarity, consistency, and transparency”, said former federal Judge - Michael McConnell, co-chair of the Oversight Boar. Board co-chair and former Danish Prime Minister - Helle Thorning-Schmidt, in turn, said public figures should not be allowed to incite violence or create harm though their posts, but that Facebook "can't just invent new sanctions as they go along."

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