Facebook's oversight board to decide on Trump's ban

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Facebook is passing the buck for its indefinite suspension of former president Donald Trump to a quasi-independent oversight board, setting up a major test of the recently established panel.

The question of whether Donald Trump will ever be allowed back on Facebook or Instagram - after he incited a mob of supporters to storm the U.S. Capitol earlier this month - will be decided by the social network company's Oversight Board.

There are 20 global members of the Oversight Board, whose job is to examine content taken down from Facebook and Instagram.

The announcement came in a blog post from Nick Clegg, vice president of global affairs and communications.

"This decision has great outcome for similar situations which may arise in the future elsewhere", he said.

"I'm. keen not to raise expectations that because of one event we will therefore make very significant course corrections which then have to apply, because we're a global company with global standards, to the rest of the world as well", he said. "We believe that our Members, working through a strong and independent oversight process, can ensure decisions are made in a more principled and transparent way than what Facebook can deliver alone". "And we agree with them". Many argue private companies like Facebook shouldn't be making these big decisions on their own. "But in the absence of such laws, there are decisions that we can not duck". "We can't duck them".

Facebook will have a week to act on the decision and 30 days to issue a public response to any policy recommendations the board makes. Will any of them really believe or care that this Oversight Board is wholly independent and not just another department at Facebook?

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"We look forward to receiving the board's decision - and we hope, given the clear justification for our actions on January 7, that it will uphold the choices we made". It was launched in 2020 with the mission of reviewing and reconsidering some of Facebook's highest-profile content rulings.

Further, the Board said Facebook has "committed not to restore access" to its platforms for Trump's accounts unless so directed by the Board.

"It could become a potentially important institution that could operate as a meaningful check and balance to the extraordinary power Facebook exercises over the public sphere-or, alternatively, it could be a total flop", wrote Evelyn Douek, a Harvard Law School lecturer who studies online speech regulation, on the website Lawfare.

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's co-founder and chief executive officer, has voting control of the company, and he has called the Oversight Board a check on his power.

"Whilst it was a controversial decision because he was the president of the United States, it actually wasn't a particularly complicated one to take", he said, adding that in his view there was a "crystal-clear link between the words of Trump and the actions of people at the Capitol".

The administrators of Trump's Facebook page will have the option to submit a written statement challenging Facebook's decision.

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