Updated Jan 21, 2021 - Technology

Facebook refers Trump ban to independent Oversight Board for review


Photo: Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty Images

Facebook's independent Oversight Board has accepted a referral from the platform to review its decision to indefinitely suspend former President Trump.

Why it matters: While Trump critics largely praised the company's decision to remove the then-president's account for potential incitement of violence, many world leaders and free speech advocates pushed back on the decision, arguing it sets a dangerous precedent for free speech moving forward.

What they're saying: "We believe our decision was necessary and right," Nick Clegg, Facebook's VP of global affairs said in a statement.

  • "Given its significance, we think it is important for the board to review it and reach an independent judgment on whether it should be upheld. While we await the board's decision, Mr. Trump’s access will remain suspended indefinitely."
  • Clegg added that in making the decision, Facebook's "first priority was to assist in the peaceful transfer of power. This is why, when announcing the suspension on Jan. 7, we said it would be indefinite and for at least two weeks. We are referring it to the Oversight Board now that the inauguration has taken place."

Details: The Oversight Board said Thursday that a five-member panel will take up the case in the coming days and share its findings with the full board. Majority approval is necessary for a decision to be issued, and it must be made within 90 days.

  • Members must decide whether the content violates Facebook's community standards and values, and whether the platform's removal of the content "respected international human rights standards, including on freedom of expression and other human rights."
  • "Trump, through his designated page administrators, will have the ability to submit a user statement to the board explaining why he believes Facebook’s content moderation decisions should be overturned," the board said. Public comments will be permitted.

The big picture: The Oversight Board, which launched last year, is designed to operate fully independently, but it has financial and technical support from Facebook.

Be smart: Thousands of cases are submitted to the Oversight Board daily. But the panel says it will prioritize hearing cases that are submitted for review by Facebook itself.

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