Advertisement

Facebook will not lift its suspension of Trump's account

Facebook will not lift the suspension on former President Donald Trump's account, the company's Oversight Board said Wednesday.

Advertisement

Facebook will not lift the suspension on former President Donald Trump's account, the company's Oversight Board said Wednesday.

The Oversight Board, an independent body that has the power to reverse Facebook content decisions and set precedent for the company, said Wednesday that the company must reexamine the decision in six months. The decision also applies to Facebook-owned Instagram where Trump has an account. Trump has almost 60 million followers across Facebook and Instagram.

"Within six months of this decision, Facebook must reexamine the arbitrary penalty it imposed on Jan. 7 and decide the appropriate penalty," the board wrote in its decision. "This penalty must be based on the gravity of the violation and the prospect of future harm. It must also be consistent with Facebook's rules for severe violations, which must, in turn, be clear, necessary and proportionate."

The board says if Facebook decides to restore Trump's accounts, the company must be able to promptly address further violations.

Trump was suspended "indefinitely" from Facebook and Instagram on Jan. 7, a day after his supporters stormed the Capitol in a bid to overturn the 2020 election results. Trump was also permanently banned from Twitter and Youtube took similar steps, citing an ongoing risk of violence and incitement.

"We believe the risks of allowing the president to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great," Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote at the time.

Though funded by Facebook, the Oversight Board is designed to operate autonomously from the company. In reviewing Facebook's content decisions, the Board draws its voting members from fields ranging from international and human rights law to journalism and digital rights advocacy. But critics of the group have alleged it is little more than a fig leaf meant to lend the appearance of legitimacy and accountability.

The decision to bar Trump from Facebook, if made permanent, could have vast implications, wrote Evelyn Douek, a researcher of online speech and platform moderation at Harvard Law School.

"There is no greater question in content moderation right now than whether Trump's deplatforming represents the start of a new era in how companies police their platforms, or whether it will be merely an aberration," Douek wrote in January. "What one platform does can ripple across the internet, as other platforms draft in the wake of first movers and fall like dominoes in banning the same accounts or content. For all these reasons, the board's decision on Trump's case could affect far more than one Facebook page."

CNN contributed to this report.