Politics EXPLAINER: Will Donald Trump return to Facebook?
Fact check: A viral image of restaurant diners does not depict the Facebook content policy team
A post falsely claims to show the Facebook team that sets the platform's rules. The image has been shared many times claiming to show various groups.“Facebook community standards team,” it claims. “This is literally who bans us.
Former President Donald Trump will find out whether he gets to return to Facebook on Wednesday, when the social network’s quasi-independent Oversight Board plans to announce its ruling in the high-profile case.
The decision likely to stir up strong feelings no matter which way it goes. If the board rules in Trump's favor, Facebook has 30 days to reinstate his account. If it upholds Facebook’s decision, Trump will remain “indefinitely suspended.” That means he’ll remain banned from the platform for as long as Facebook sees fit.
Donald Trump Will Not Be Allowed Back on Facebook Yet—But a Bigger Showdown Is Coming
The decision by Facebook's handpicked Oversight Board opens the door for Trump to return to social mediaFacebook banned Trump indefinitely following his Jan. 6 incitement of supporters to storm the U.S. Capitol building as lawmakers voted to finalize the results of the 2020 U.S. election, which he lost.
Here’s how the process works and what might happen after Wednesday’s announcement.
WHY DID TRUMP GET SUSPENDED?
Trump’s Facebook account was suspended for inciting violence that led to the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riots. After years of treating Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric with a light touch, Facebook and Instagram, which Facebook owns, silenced his accounts on Jan. 7, saying at the time he’d be suspended “at least” through the end of his presidency on Jan. 20.
In a short video posted on his social media accounts, Trump had urged his supporters to “go home” while also repeating falsehoods about the integrity of the presidential election.
Facebook Refused to Give Evidence About Role Site Played in Capitol Riot, Oversight Board Says
Facebook refused to answer questions for many reasons, including "information was not reasonably required for decision-making" of the Oversight Board.The social media giant refused to answer seven of the 46 questions the board asked the company, and partially declined to answer two of them.
Facebook's move came after Trump was booted off Twitter, his preferred site for reaching his millions of social-media followers.
WHAT IS THE OVERSIGHT BOARD AND HOW DOES IT MAKE ITS DECISIONS?
Facebook created the oversight panel to rule on thorny content on its platforms. Its creation came in response to widespread criticism about the company's inability to respond swiftly and effectively to misinformation, hate speech and nefarious influence campaigns. Facebook has said it doesn't believe that it should be the final word on such monumental questions of content moderation and speech.
The board’s 20 members, which will eventually grow to 40, include a former prime minister of Denmark, the former editor-in-chief of the Guardian newspaper, along with legal scholars, human rights experts and journalists.
The first four board members were directly chosen by Facebook. Those four then worked with Facebook to select additional members. Facebook pays each board members a salary through an “independent trust.”
The Problem Is Facebook
Facebook’s “Supreme Court” might have upheld Donald Trump’s suspension, but that doesn’t make it a real court.For now, Trump’s suspension stays in place. But the board has given Facebook six months to “reexamine the arbitrary penalty it imposed on January 7 and decide the appropriate penalty.” No hiding behind the judgment of outsiders when Republican politicians complain about “anti-conservative bias,” or when other world leaders such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel worry about the precedent of a corporation pulling the plug on an elected politician—Facebook will have to tell us what its own red lines are.
The board’s independence has been questioned by critics who say it’s just part of a Facebook public-relations campaign intended to draw attention away from deeper problems of hate and misinformation that still flourish on its platforms.
Sort of like a quasi Supreme Court, the board's decisions on the cases are binding. It can also make additional suggestions that are not binding but Facebook so far has signaled it is willing to take them into consideration.
WHAT ARE SOME PREVIOUS CASES?
Facebook regularly takes down thousands of posts and accounts, and about 150,000 of those cases have appealed to the oversight board since it launched in October. The board has said that is prioritizing the review of cases that have the potential to affect many users around the world. Its decisions so far have weighed on the side of free expression over restricting content.
In its initial batch of rulings,, the board ordered Facebook to restore posts by users that the company said broke standards on adult nudity, hate speech, or dangerous individuals.
Facebook's oversight board made the right call on Trump. Now it's Zuckerberg's turn
Commentary: The social media company's inconsistent approach to its policies created an untenable situation. The oversight board is pushing for a fix.The 20 members of the quasi-independent board, experts in free expression, human rights and journalism, agreed that the threat of imminent harm required a temporary silencing of the world's most powerful and influential person.
DID TRUMP GET SPECIAL TREATMENT FROM FACEBOOK?
Until the January riots, Trump was largely treated with kid gloves by Facebook and other social media platforms. This despite a history of spreading misinformation, promulgating hate and — what finally got him banned — inciting violence. Even Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has acknowledged this.
Trump had remained on Facebook because the company believes "the public has a right to the broadest possible access to political speech, even controversial speech.” Zuckerberg wrote on his Facebook page on Jan. 7 explaining the company’s decision to suspend Trump.
Part of this was the extra leeway Facebook has given to politicians and world leaders. But as the January events showed, there is a limit even for politicians, including U.S. presidents.
COULD TRUMP GET BANNED AGAIN IF HE IS REINSTATED?
Yes. The oversight board is only ruling on Trump's January “indefinite suspension.” If he is allowed back on Facebook, he will be subject to the same rules as any other user. And because he's no longer president, he won't be allotted the exemptions he was previously given.
HOW DID OTHER TECH COMPANIES HANDLE TRUMP?
Twitter banned him once and for all, no appeals. On YouTube, Trump's channel is still up but it is banned from posting new videos. Unlike Facebook and Twitter, YouTube does not make exemptions for politicians and world leaders. It has a three-strikes policy that applies to every user,in March.
The Trump Decision Turned Content Moderation Into Shark Week
This is new, and this is bizarre.Okay, and no surprise. What might be surprising, if you haven’t been tuned in to content-moderation chatter for the past 10 years, is how much of an event this has become. Never before has a blog post about an account suspension been plausibly described as “anticipated.” The board’s announcement was preceded by a week of “what to expect” coverage in national outlets (CNN had live updates!), as well as months of feature-length reporting about the creation, motivation, limitations, and generally futuristic—or dystopian, depending on who you ask—vibe of something nicknamed the “Supreme Court” of a social-media site.
YouTube “will lift the suspension of the Donald Trump channel when we determine that the risk of violence has decreased,” Wojcicki said. This has not happened yet.
Twitch and Snapchat also disabled Trump’s accounts, while Shopify took down online stores affiliated with the president and Reddit removed a Trump subgroup.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR OTHER POLITICIANS?
Some human rights activists and other critics have lambasted Facebook and other social media companies for not banning autocratic world leaders from their platforms even as they banned Trump. While the company has restricted the accounts of other world leaders in the past, Trump is the most high-profile political figure to be suspended for as long as he has been.
Politicians, activists and free speech advocates are watching Trump's case closely because it could influence how other politicians are treated by the social network in the future. The oversight board could make other recommendations to Facebook on how to treat political speech and world leaders — if it should continue to give them more leeway than regular users, for instance.
The board's decision “will be far less important than the rationale behind it,” said Elizabeth Renieris, founding director of the Technology Ethics Lab at the University of Notre Dame. “Trump was not the first and will certainly not be the last prominent public figure to abuse powerful platforms for problematic and often dangerous ends, including incitement to violence.”
Facebook wanted its $130 million 'Supreme Court' to solve its policy enforcement problems. The board's decision to punt on Trump's ban shows how the initiative has backfired. .
Since the group refused to rule on Trump's suspension duration, Facebook finds itself back where it started: tasked with solving its own problems. It's on Facebook to solve its long-standing content moderation dilemmasFacebook's Oversight Board may have launched recently, but the reason for its inception stretches far back.Facebook, like other tech platforms, has historically taken a hands-off approach in judging if content should be taken down on its site, which is used by about two billion people worldwide. As CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said, the company does not want to be "the arbiter of truth.