Legal News

Facebook Oversight Board Rules Trump’s’Unfounded Story of Electoral Fraud’ Justified Initial Suspension, But Rebukes’Indefinite’ Ban

The Facebook Oversight Board on Wednesday declared the decision to suspend Donald Trump from accessing the platform, justification the former president’s articles netted his assistants after the storming of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 violated Facebook’s community criteria and guidelines at a”acute” way.
The Oversight Board, sometimes referred to as”Facebook’s Supreme Court,” was made and is funded by the enterprise to function as a neutral third-party arbiter of the platform’s conclusions concerning the moderation of content. Its stated intent is to”encourage free expression by making principled, independent conclusions” about what is and is not permissible on the site. Its decisions are binding and must be executed provided the action is not illegal.
Facebook on Jan. 7 was the first important social media site to suspend Trump because of his role in inciting and exacerbating the Capitol siege. As stated by the Board, that initial decision was warranted, especially citing to 2 articles that specifically praised people who attempted to prevent Congress from certifying the Electoral College votes.
In the very first, Trump posted a movie where he spoke directly to his own assistants, many of whom supported him along with his fictitious election fraud claims, telling them how that the election was”stolen from us” and saying,”we love you” and”you’re very special.”
In the second article, Trump wrote,”All these are the events and things which happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously brutally stripped away from great patriots who’ve been badly unfairly treated for so long.”
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Both articles were quickly removed. The following day,” the former president, who had over 35 million followers, was suspended by the site”indefinitely and for at least the following two weeks” before the event was officially called the Board for review.
“The Board found that, in keeping an unfounded story of electoral fraud and continuous calls to action, Mr. Trump created an environment where a serious threat of violence was possible. At the time of Mr. Trump’s articles, there was a very clear, immediate threat of injury as well as his words of support for all those involved with the riots legitimized their violent actions,” the decision stated.
“The user commended and supported people involved in an ongoing riot where people perished, lawmakers were set at serious risk of injury, and also a key democratic process has been interrupted. Moreover, in the time when these limitations were extended on January 7, the situation was fluid and also serious security concerns stayed. Given the circumstances, restricting Mr. Trump’s access to Facebook and Instagram past January 6 and 7 struck an appropriate balance in light of the continuing threat of violence and disruption.”
But the Board also noticed that Facebook’s decision to employ an indefinite suspension was”not appropriate” without also providing criteria concerning the account reactivation.
“Facebook didn’t comply with a clear published procedure in this instance. Facebook’s normal account-level penalties for violations of its principles would be to impose either a time-limited suspension or to permanently disable the consumer’s account,” the decision stated. “The Board finds it is not enough for Facebook to keep a user off the platform to get an undefined period, with no criteria for if or whether the account will be restored”
The company is required to reevaluate Trump’s suspension also, within six months, choose an appropriate penalty based on”the gravity of the breach and the possibility of future injury.”
[picture via ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS_AFP via Getty Images]
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