Facebook’s new oversight board "seems poised" to end the social media network's ban preventing former President Donald Trump from posting on Facebook or Instagram, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.
Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms banned Trump following the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, with YouTube later stating it would end his suspension once the threat of politically motivated violence abates.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a statement at the time, "The shocking events of the last 24 hours clearly demonstrate that President Donald Trump intends to use his remaining time in office to undermine the peaceful and lawful transition of power to his elected successor, Joe Biden.
"His decision to use his platform to condone rather than condemn the actions of his supporters at the Capitol building has rightly disturbed people in the US and around the world. We removed these statements yesterday because we judged that their effect — and likely their intent — would be to provoke further violence," he said.
Zuckerberg concluded, "We believe the risks of allowing the President to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great. Therefore, we are extending the block we have placed on his Facebook and Instagram accounts indefinitely and for at least the next two weeks until the peaceful transition of power is complete."
The company referred Trump's suspension to its oversight board, which was established last year to review decisions on content moderation. The board is made up of 20 academics, lawyers, and civic leaders from around the world, including the former prime minister of Denmark, and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
Writing for Bloomberg, Paul Barrett, the deputy director of the NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights, stated that when "describing [Trump's] pending case on its website, the board narrows its focus to just two posts from Jan. 6" about the election, one saying it was stolen, and another saying that it was "unceremoniously & viciously ripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long."
Barrett noted that in five of its six cases so far, the board has overruled Facebook's initial decision to remove content, including a post that claimed the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine is a "cure" for COVID-19. In one instance, the board noted that the "patchwork of policies found on different parts of Facebook's website make it difficult for users to understand what content is prohibited."
According to Barrett, "Another possible signal that should give Trump some confidence is the board's assertion in its case preview that Facebook wasn’t crystal clear about which of its rules he violated. In earlier decisions, the board pointed to this kind of fuzziness to justify reversals of company sanctions.
"Removing a political leader from a widely used platform should be a punishment of last resort," he adds. "It narrows the scope of political debate and may deny voters valuable election-related information. In close cases, Facebook should lean toward penalties like labeling content as misleading or limiting its distribution."