Facebook’s Oversight Board ruled that former President Donald Trump suspension was upheld and should remain banned from the platform for incendiary posts he made on January 6, the day of the deadly insurrection at the US Capitol. 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.
“As president, Mr. Trump had a high level of influence. The reach of his posts was large, with 35 million followers on Facebook and 24 million on Instagram. 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,” the Board said.
But the Board wrote, “In applying a vague, standardless penalty and then referring this case to the Board to resolve, Facebook seeks to avoid its responsibilities. Facebook can’t indefinitely keep Trump in limbo, and they must reach a “proportionate response” and apply and justify a defined penalty, and should be reviewed within six months.”
It is probably not a coincidence that Trump launched a new website on Tuesday, just one day before the Oversight Board ruled, in which his statements, videos, and images, can be seen. The site also has convenient tabs for users to post to Facebook and Twitter and other media platforms. This could allow Trump’s thoughts, ideas and responses to soon be appearing all over Facebook, Twitter and/or other social media pages near you.
Facebook’s Oversight Board was set up by Facebook in May of 2020 to adjudicate the company’s most controversial decisions.On January 21, Facebook passed the Trump case to the new Oversight Board for adjudication.
In the short term, the continued ban will feed the rightwing narrative of “cancel culture.” Now he has more ammunition.
The announcement will also empower his conservative allies to cast big tech companies as the enemy of free speech.
Mark Meadows, Trump’s former chief of staff, told Fox News, “It’s a sad day for Facebook because I can tell you a number of members of Congress are now looking at, do they break up Facebook? Do they make sure that they don’t have a monopoly?”
A Republican Senator, Josh Hawley, an arch critic of Silicon Valley, tweeted that the decision is “a real-life example of the tyranny of #Big Tech,” and adding, “That’s what monopolies do. Break them up.”