The Facebook Oversight Board has ruled to uphold the decision to ban former US President Donald J. Trump from the social media network.
Facebook’s Oversight Board acts as a quasi-court over the company’s content decisions.
The former president was banned from both Facebook and Instagram in January following the Capitol Hill riots.
The Oversight Board said it has upheld Facebook’s decision to suspend Trump’s access to post content on Facebook and Instagram on January 7, 2021.
However, as Facebook suspended Trump’s accounts ‘indefinitely,’ the company must reassess this penalty, it said.
“Within six months of this decision, Facebook must reexamine the arbitrary penalty it imposed on January 7 and decide the appropriate penalty. This penalty must be based on the gravity of the violation and the prospect of future harm. It must also be consistent with Facebook’s rules for severe violations, which must, in turn, be clear, necessary and proportionate,” said the Oversight Board.
The board added that If Facebook decides to restore Trump’s accounts, the company should apply its rules to that decision, including any changes made in response to the Board’s policy recommendations below. “In this scenario, Facebook must address any further violations promptly and in accordance with its established content policies.”
The Oversight Board further recommended that Facebook should publicly explain the rules that it uses when it imposes account-level sanctions against influential users. These rules should ensure that when Facebook imposes a time-limited suspension on the account of an influential user to reduce the risk of significant harm, it will assess whether the risk has receded before the suspension ends.
“If Facebook identifies that the user poses a serious risk of inciting imminent violence, discrimination or other lawless action at that time, another time-bound suspension should be imposed when such measures are necessary to protect public safety and proportionate to the risk,” it said.
The Board noted that heads of state and other high officials of government can have a greater power to cause harm than other people. “If a head of state or high government official has repeatedly posted messages that pose a risk of harm under international human rights norms, Facebook should suspend the account for a period sufficient to protect against imminent harm. Suspension periods should be long enough to deter misconduct and may, in appropriate cases, include account or page deletion.”