Former U.S. President Donald Trump was banned from various social media platforms earlier this month. Among these was Facebook, with CEO Mark Zuckerberg personally announcing the suspension, stating that it was indefinite and would continue at least until then President-elect Joe Biden takes office.
With the aforementioned stipulation now complete, Facebook has deferred the case to its independent Oversight Board, while emphasizing that it believes it made the right call in suspending Trump's account a couple of weeks ago.
In a blog post, Facebook has highlighted that the case has been referred to the Oversight Board, which was formed last year and consists of global civic leaders from various backgrounds and industries. You can view the full list of members here.
Facebook has emphasized that it believes that it made the right decision in suspending Trump's account under "extraordinary circumstances" on January 7, and it hopes that the Oversight Board will agree to the indefinite ban based on the justifications provided. The firm went on to say that:
The reaction to our decision shows the delicate balance private companies are being asked to strike. Some said that Facebook should have banned President Trump long ago, and that the violence on the Capitol was itself a product of social media; others that it was an unacceptable display of unaccountable corporate power over political speech.
[...] Whether you believe the decision was justified or not, many people are understandably uncomfortable with the idea that tech companies have the power to ban elected leaders. Many argue private companies like Facebook shouldn’t be making these big decisions on their own. We agree. Every day, Facebook makes decisions about whether content is harmful, and these decisions are made according to Community Standards we have developed over many years. It would be better if these decisions were made according to frameworks agreed by democratically accountable lawmakers. But in the absence of such laws, there are decisions that we cannot duck.
It is important to note that the Oversight Board's decision will be final and not even Zuckerberg will have the authority to veto it. Facebook will also be open to recommendations from the organization about how to deal with cases of suspending political leaders, should the need arise in the future.
The Oversight Board's process for assessing the case will also be of interest to some readers. From a bird's eye view, a five-member panel will review the case and Trump's page administrators will be allowed to submit statements as to why Facebook's original decision will be overturned. The panel will have up to 90 days to achieve a decision that has to be supported by a simple majority of Oversight Board members. In response, Facebook will have seven days to implement the recommendations made by the panel and up to 30 days to respond to them. The findings of the case and the final outcome will be published on the Oversight Board's website here.