On Wednesday, Facebook’s controversial “Oversight Board” announced their decision to uphold former President Donald Trump’s suspension on both Facebook and Instagram.
“The Board has upheld Facebook’s decision on January 7, 2021, to restrict then-President Donald Trump’s access to posting content on his Facebook page and Instagram account,” a statement read.
In addition, the Oversight Board noted that they felt it “was not appropriate for Facebook to impose the indeterminate and standardless penalty of indefinite suspension” given that “Facebook’s normal penalties include removing the violating content, imposing a time-bound period of suspension, or permanently disabling the page and account.”
“The Board insists that Facebook 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. Facebook must complete its review of this matter within six months of the date of this decision. The Board also made policy recommendations for Facebook to implement in developing clear, necessary, and proportionate policies that promote public safety and respect freedom of expression,” the statement introduction concluded.
After outlining a slightly subjective version of events in a section titled, “About the case,” the Oversight Board explained its “Key findings.”
Similar to Twitter’s conclusion, Facebook’s Oversight Board “found that the two posts by Mr. Trump on January 6 severely violated Facebook’s Community Standards and Instagram’s Community Guidelines,” claiming that phrases like “We love you. You’re very special,” “great patriots,” and “remember this day forever” had “violated Facebook’s rules prohibiting praise or support of people engaged in violence.”
“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,” the statement continued. Referencing Trump’s “high level of influence” with “35 million followers on Facebook and 24 million on Instagram,” the Board determined that, “Given the seriousness of the violations and the ongoing risk of violence, Facebook was justified in suspending Mr. Trump’s accounts on January 6 and extending that suspension on January 7.”
However, the Oversight Board diluted their agreement by noting that “it was not appropriate for Facebook to impose an ‘indefinite’ suspension.”
“It is not permissible for Facebook to keep a user off the platform for an undefined period, with no criteria for when or whether the account will be restored,” the statement read.
“In applying this penalty, Facebook did not follow a clear, published procedure. ‘Indefinite’ suspensions are not described in the company’s content policies. Facebook’s normal penalties include removing the violating content, imposing a time-bound period of suspension, or permanently disabling the page and account,” the statement continued. The Oversight Board then criticized Facebook for “applying a vague, standardless penalty and then referring this case to the Board to resolve, Facebook seeks to avoid its responsibilities.”
“The Board declines Facebook’s request and insists that Facebook apply and justify a defined penalty.”
Later in the statement, the Oversight Board listed a list of recommendations for Facebook. In addition to asking that Facebook “publicly explain the rules that it uses when it imposes account-level sanctions against influential users,” the Board discussed issues such as rapid escalation to “specialized staff who are familiar with the linguistic and political context,” adequate resourcing, and “comprehensive review of Facebook’s potential contribution to the narrative of electoral fraud and the exacerbated tensions that culminated in the violence in the United States on January 6.”
Ian Haworth is an Editor and Writer for The Daily Wire. Follow him on Twitter at @ighaworth.
The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.
The Daily Wire is one of America’s fastest-growing conservative media companies and counter-cultural outlets for news, opinion, and entertainment. Get inside access to The Daily Wire by becoming a member.