The Facebook Oversight Board, which will decide if Donald Trump’s indefinite suspension should be lifted has received an appeal on behalf of the former president arguing why his Facebook and Instagram accounts should be restored.
“We can confirm that a user statement has been received in the case before the Oversight Board concerning President Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts,” a spokesperson for the Oversight Board said in a statement.
The spokesperson declined further comment. The Oversight Board has received some 9,000 comments from the public on the hotly contested question of whether to allow Trump access to his Facebook and Instagram accounts. Facebook announced in January that it asked the Oversight Board to review its decision to suspend Trump on Jan. 7, the day after a group of the president’s supporters stormed the Capitol. Trump’s accounts on Facebook and Instagram remained suspended pending the Oversight Board’s decision. Trump’s appeal was first reported by Channel 4 News in the United Kingdom. The Trump ban is the most consequential case yet for the Oversight Board, with far-reaching political implications for the nation. Facebook’s Oversight Board launched last year to review the toughest calls the company makes. It is supposed to function as an independent entity but gets financial backing and technical support from Facebook.
The Oversight Board has 90 days to make a decision but a ruling is expected more quickly. Its decision is binding and cannot be overruled by CEO Mark Zuckerberg or any other Facebook executive. Zuckerberg and others have grown increasingly uneasy with the platform wielding the power to silence world leaders and reshape the nation’s online conversation.
“Our decision to suspend then-President Trump’s access was taken in extraordinary circumstances: a U.S. president actively fomenting a violent insurrection designed to thwart the peaceful transition of power; five people killed; legislators fleeing the seat of democracy,” Nick Clegg, Facebook’s vice president of global affairs, wrote last month. “This has never happened before – and we hope it will never happen again. It was an unprecedented set of events which called for unprecedented action.”
YouTube and other social media companies also indefinitely suspended Trump’s account. Snapchat and Twitter permanently banned Trump.
“We faced an extraordinary and untenable circumstance, forcing us to focus all of our actions on public safety,” Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said of the decision. “Offline harm as a result of online speech is demonstrably real, and what drives our policy and enforcement above all.” The decision to block Trump’s access to the major social media platforms following the Capitol riots was praised by Trump critics and had the support of most Americans but was condemned by Trump supporters and free speech advocates who warned it set a dangerous precedent. Saying the suspension has driven “intense global interest,” the Oversight Board accepted the case and pledged to conduct “a thorough and independent assessment of the company’s decision.”