In what is far from closure in Trump’s social media standing, the decision from Facebook’s oversight board, a board that Facebook set up themselves to handle any appeals of the company’s decisions, concluded that Donald Trump’s ban from the social media giant should remain intact but Facebook’s decision was “not appropriate” for them to impose an “indeterminate and standardless penalty of indefinite suspension.”
In their decision, the oversight board also requests that the company review the Donald Trump decision within six months “to determine and justify a proportionate response that is consistent with the rules that are applied to other users of its platform.”
Implications surrounding this decision will be tremendous as to how Facebook and other social media giants handle potential incendiary posts from not only U.S. leaders like Donald Trump but leaders around the globe. Those on the left claim that social media isn’t doing enough to stop or even slow down the disinformation being spread by high-profile figures while those on the right say social media is going way too far in silencing or censoring their views.
As per Donald Trump, he didn’t take kindly to the decision, once again showing that he won’t go away quietly. He took to blasting the oversight board for their ruling, issuing a statement, “What Facebook, Twitter and Google have done is a total disgrace and an embarrassment to our Country,” he said via Deadline. “Free Speech has been taken away from the President of the United States because the Radical Left Lunatics are afraid of the truth, but the truth will come out anyway, bigger and stronger than ever before. The People of our Country will not stand for it! These corrupt social media companies must pay a political price, and must never again be allowed to destroy and decimate our Electoral Process.”
Clearly, as evidenced by Donald Trump’s four years in office, our country is divided in where we stand. For those who are not aware of the incendiary and inflammatory posts that got Trump suspended, here are the words from the video he posted on that fateful day of January 6, 2021. You can decide what in his words are inflammatory and what isn’t.
“I know your pain. I know you’re hurt. We had an election that was stolen from us. It was a landslide election, and everyone knows it, especially the other side, but you have to go home now. We have to have peace. We have to have law and order. We have to respect our great people in law and order. We don’t want anybody hurt. It’s a very tough period of time. There’s never been a time like this where such a thing happened, where they could take it away from all of us, from me, from you, from our country. This was a fraudulent election, but we can’t play into the hands of these people. We have to have peace. So go home. We love you. You’re very special. You’ve seen what happens. You see the way others are treated that are so bad and so evil. I know how you feel. But go home and go home in peace.”
A little over an hour later, Facebook removed his video saying it violated their Community Standard on Dangerous Individuals and Organizations. About twenty minutes later, Donald Trump then posted a written statement on Facebook saying, “These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly unfairly treated for so long. Go home with love in peace. Remember this day forever!”
The oversight board referred to these two incidents in their ultimate decision regarding Donald Trump’s fate on their social media platform. Their decision can be read here.
Over Donald Trump’s four-year term as the nation’s 45th President of the United States, he was at constant odds with social media. Trump constantly used that platform to get his message across and while some relished his words, many others loathed them. It was a battle that saw Trump suspended from social media numerous times, with things finally coming to a head in early January.
While things were up in the air for Donald Trump and Facebook after January 6th, it wasn’t until January 21, 2021, the day after Joe Biden was inaugurated, that the company decided to hand over their decision to the oversight board.
Regarding Donald Trump, Nick Clegg, head of Global Affairs for Facebook said, via Deadline, “We have taken the view that in open democracies people have a right to hear what their politicians are saying — the good, the bad and the ugly — so that they can be held to account.” Clegg continued, “But it has never meant that politicians can say whatever they like. They remain subject to our policies banning the use of our platform to incite violence. It is these policies that were enforced when we took the decision to suspend President Trump’s access.”
Not only did the oversight board decide Donald Trump’s fate, for now, but they also offered recommendations on how the social media platform should handle incendiary content from its influential users and political figures. Among the recommendations is that the company needs to better explain to the public their somewhat vague rules concerning how they go about deciding suspensions. The board also noted that “when Facebook imposes a time-limited suspension on the account of an influential user to reduce the risk of significant harm, it will assess whether the risk has receded before the suspension ends.” The board feels that another time-allotted suspension should be doled out if the accused continues to pose the risk of inciting “imminent violence, discrimination or other lawless action at that time.”
The board concludes that these suspension periods like Donald Trump is under should be long enough to dissuade users from potential misconduct but if it continues, account or page deletion should be the remedy.
As expected, the decision regarding Donald Trump was met with both glee and disdain. The left wishes to have this ban last forever while the right criticized the decision. Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) wrote on Twitter about the decision, “This is a dangerous and reckless decision and sends a clear signal to conservatives using social media—you’re not welcome here. If Facebook is so big it thinks it can silence the leaders you elect, it’s time for conservatives to pursue an antitrust agenda.”
Not to be outdone by Rep. Banks, another group called the Real Facebook Oversight Board, took their own digs at the Donald Trump decision by stating, “As such we ask: what is the point of the Oversight Board? This is a Facebook-funded, Facebook-appointed body that has no legitimacy to make real decisions. Facebook’s attempt to divert attention from its fundamental failure to take responsibility for what’s on its own platform has itself failed.” This “board” is made up of notable figures such as the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, Jonathan Greenblatt, and the Color of Change’s Rashad Robinson.
There is most definitely a need to curb some of the violence-inciting musings that are seen across social media, so the theory of what these social media platforms are doing is commendable. The questions that have our country divided in half are, where do you draw that line and how do you define it?