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Facebook oversight board upholds ban on Trump, censures social site for 'standard-less penalty'

Facebook banned Trump after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

Updated: May 5, 2021 - 2:04pm

Facebook on Wednesday kept its ban on former President Trump on the social media site.

The decision was made by Facebook's quasi-oversight board. Trump was banned from the site and from Facebook-owned Instagram following the Jan. 6 Capitol riot over concerns that his posts incited the rioters and that future ones could spark similar incidents.

Facebook's oversight board is made up of 20 members including former political leaders, human rights activists and journalists.

The board said in a statement announcing its decision that it upheld Facebook's Jan. 7 on restricting Trump but said: "It was not appropriate for Facebook to impose the indeterminate and standard-less penalty of indefinite suspension.

Members pointed out Facebook’s normal penalties include removing violating content, imposing a definitive period of suspension or permanently disabling the page and account.

The board also said it "insists 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."

The board gave Facebook six months to complete its review and made policy recommendations for Facebook to implement in developing clear, necessary, and proportionate policies that promote public safety and respect freedom of expression.

The reinstatement would have significantly boosted Trump’s efforts to fundraise and continue to connect with supporters, without the megaphone of the presidency. 

Trump is still under a permanent ban from Twitter, his favorite and most impactful social media site, for a ruling similar to Facebook's.

Twitter does not have such an oversight board. 

Trump on Tuesday launched his own site and disseminate his press releases and other public statements.

Facebook created the board to make rulings on contentious content, in response to criticism about its inability to respond to misinformation, hate speech and nefarious influence campaigns. 

The first four board members were directly chosen by Facebook. They then worked with Facebook to select more members. Facebook pays each board member a salary.

The board’s independence has been questioned by critics who say it’s a Facebook public relations campaign, the Associated Press reports.