Facebook Inc’s oversight board will decide whether to uphold the company’s indefinite suspension of former U.S. President Donald Trump. This is a much awaited verdict which implies the company’s future action towards rule breaking leaders of the world.
Facebook had indefinitely blocked Trump’s access to his Facebook and Instagram accounts. This was followed over concerns of further violent unrest after the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol by supporters of the former president. Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg during the time of suspension said that the risks to continue to allow the president to use their services were too great.
Its recently established board includes academics, lawyers and rights activists, and the company referred this case to the board, to decide whether to uphold the ban or restore Trump. Kate Klonick, an assistant law professor at St. John’s University who embedded at Facebook to follow the board’s creation said that offloading the decision to a third party, the Oversight Board, is a win for Facebook no matter what.
Facebook has also asked the board to provide recommendations on how it should handle political leaders’ accounts. In recent years tech platforms are suffering on how to handle world leaders and politicians that violate their guidelines. If the board overturns Trump’s ban, it will restore to the former president a social media megaphone he has lacked since being barred in January from platforms including Twitter Inc. (TWTR.N), which permanently banned him from posting to his more than 88 million followers, and Snap Inc. (SNAP.N).
Facebook’s head of global affairs Nick Clegg told Reuters in January that he was very confident of the company’s case on Trump’s ban and said any reasonable person looking at Facebook’s policies and the circumstances would agree.