Politics

Facebook upholds decision to ban Donald Trump from its platforms

On Wednesday, Facebook’s oversight board ruled to uphold the social network’s decision to ban former President Donald Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts.

Back in January, Facebook had removed former President Donald Trump from their social networking platforms for allegedly “inciting violence” at the Capitol. The Washington Post reports that Facebook’s Oversight Board upheld the social media network’s original ban on the president.  However, the board said that the indefinite suspension “was not appropriate” but pushed the decision back to Facebook to reconsider.  The board strongly encouraged the company “review this matter to determine and justify a proportionate response that is consistent with the rules that are applied to other users of its platform” (CNBC). The Oversight Board consists of 20 members and is generally independent despite being funded by the social media company.

In the ruling, the board did agree that the comments made by Trump on January 6th “created an environment where a serious risk of violence was possible.” The issue found with Facebook’s “indefinite” suspension of the former president, was with it being a vague and uncertain timeline. It was recommended that Facebook publish a report clarifying its own role in instigating the January attack. The social networking site was given a six-month window to make suggestions on how to create clearer policies to balance freedom of speech within a safe environment. Oversight Board co-chair Helle Thorning-Schmidt told reporters that they were “telling Facebook that they can’t just invent new unwritten rules” when they find it convenient. Facebook’s vice president of global affairs and communication, Nick Clegg, responded to the board’s decision saying, “we will now consider the board’s decision and determine an action that is clear and proportionate.  In the meantime, Mr. Trump’s accounts will remain suspended.”

Former President Trump’s banning from numerous sites in response to the Capitol riot have sparked important discussions on free speech in regard to social media and the internet. “Free Speech has been taken away from the President of the United States because the Radical Left Lunatics are afraid of the truth,” Trump said in a statement.  Twitter and YouTube are just two of the many networks that had suspended Trump from their sites, following in Facebook’s footsteps. Critics have called into question the legitimacy of the Oversight Board, since the board is only able to offer recommendations that Facebook can choose not to consider. Some have called the group a distraction from developing new policies, laws, and government oversight of social media companies. Though Trump may be excluded from major social media platforms, the former president recently launched a new website, ensuring that his internet presence will continue (BBC News). 

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ARTICLE: JILLIAN WEIDNER

POLITICS EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE

PHOTO CREDITS: THE NEW YORK TIMES

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