Facebook’s independent Oversight Board today ruled to maintain the January decision to suspend Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts. It upheld the platform’s ban on former President Donald Trump in light of the “clear, immediate risk of harm” during the January 6 unrest at the US Capitol.
It however requires a review of ban policies and procedures after 6 months leaving the door open for a return in the future. The board ruled that Facebook’s suspension was not clear enough and that its indefinite timeframe “was not appropriate.” The board said “Trump created an environment where a serious risk of violence was possible.”
“In 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,” the board wrote in its report.
The board also took issue with the lack of clarity surrounding the ban. It said that Facebook did not follow a “clear, published procedure” when it banned the president. The board mentioned that Facebook should apply the same rules to all users and explain those rules clearly.
The board requested that Facebook review the ban within six months to find a “proportionate response that is consistent with the rules that are applied to other users of its platform.” Including whether posts made by “influential users” warrants an urgent action to avoid “significant harm.”
In a blog post responding to the board’s decision, Facebook said it would consider the ruling and determine an action that lines up with the board’s report.
“We will now consider the board’s decision and determine an action that is clear and proportionate. In the meantime, Mr. Trump’s accounts in our platform will remain suspended,” it wrote.