Facebook Oversight Board Upholds Ban on Trump Accounts

The Facebook and Instagram accounts of Donald Trump will remain indefinitely suspended. Facebook’s independent Oversight Board, launched in October 2020, ruled this morning to uphold the social media giant’s January decision to suspend the accounts of then-President Trump in the wake of the U.S. Capitol insurrection. However, suggesting that an indefinite suspension “was not appropriate,” the Board “insists” that Facebook review the matter within six months, “to determine and justify a proportionate response that is consistent with the rules that are applied to other users of its platform.”

The Oversight Board’s decision does not apply to social platforms such as Twitter, YouTube or other services that restricted Trump following the January attack. And being banned hasn’t slowed the former president’s online efforts. “After months of promising his own social media network for banned posters,” explains The Verge, yesterday Trump “launched a new section of his website — essentially a standard-issue blog.”

The new “platform,” powered by former campaign manager Brad Parscale’s Campaign Nucleus, is “hosted as a running blog of Twitter-length commentary from Trump. People can sign up for post alerts on the platform through their email and phone numbers and are allegedly able to like them.” Followers also have the ability “to share Trump’s posts on Facebook and Twitter.”

Meanwhile, the Facebook Board “made suggestions for how to create clear policies that balance public safety and freedom of expression,” reports CNBC.

This morning’s “decision will ensure Trump remains blocked from posting or having a presence on the social media company’s services for now, as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg committed to following the Board’s recommendation, though Facebook is not bound to do so.”

“The Board found that, in maintaining an unfounded narrative of electoral fraud and persistent calls to action, Mr. Trump created an environment where a serious risk of violence was possible,” wrote the Board in its decision, adding, “there was a clear, immediate risk of harm and his words of support for those involved in the riots legitimized their violent actions.”

“In applying a vague, standardless penalty and then referring this case to the Board to resolve, Facebook seeks to avoid its responsibilities,” the decision reads, punting the responsibility back to Facebook. “The Board declines Facebook’s request and insists that Facebook apply and justify a defined penalty.”

According to NBC News, today’s “decision is likely to become fodder for Republican lawmakers and other critics of the increasing power that Facebook and other tech companies wield over political debate and online speech.”

Related:
Facebook’s Problem Goes Well Beyond Trump, The Washington Post, 5/4/21
As Decision on Trump Looms, Facebook Preps Its Advertisers, The Wall Street Journal, 5/4/21
Inside ‘Facebook Jail’: The Secret Rules That Put Users in the Doghouse, The Wall Street Journal, 5/4/21