Technology Facebook's oversight board made the right call on Trump. Now it's Zuckerberg's turn

00:10  06 may  2021
00:10  06 may  2021 Source:   cnet.com

Trump faces a narrow path to victory against Facebook suspension

  Trump faces a narrow path to victory against Facebook suspension The board reviewing his case has overturned Facebook’s content takedowns in almost every decision so far. But the ex-president poses special challenges.Facebook’s oversight board is expected to rule in the coming weeks on whether to uphold or overturn Trump’s indefinite suspension from the platforms, which the company imposed after the Jan. 6 Capitol riots over fears he might incite further violence. So far, the panel of scholars, lawyers and other outside experts has bucked Facebook’s judgment in five of the six decisions it has rendered.

It must also be consistent with Facebook ' s rules for severe violations, which must, in turn , be clear, necessary and proportionate." The board also criticized Facebook for having made the suspension indefinite. 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

Earlier this morning, it asked the Oversight Board it created to make the call on whether or not Trump is welcomed back on Facebook . Those cases include the toughest calls Facebook must make , and none will be tougher than this. A lot rides on the decision. Without Trump on Twitter and Facebook , much of the world is enjoying better blood pressure readings. More seriously, there is less of a chance that Trump can incite the kind of violence that led to his suspension.

With a dozen words, Facebook's oversight board made one of its most consequential decisions after agreeing with CEO Mark Zuckerberg's decision to ban then-President Donald Trump for inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection in Washington. Facebook acted after a mob of Trump's supporters attacked and ransacked the US Capitol to disrupt the certification of an election he'd lost. That day, Trump posted a message telling his supporters in DC, "We love you, you're very special," and restating lies that he'd won the presidential election.

icon: Facebook's oversight board faced an untenable situation. Getty Images © Provided by CNET Facebook's oversight board faced an untenable situation. Getty Images icon © Getty Images

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.

Meet the people deciding Trump’s fate on Facebook

  Meet the people deciding Trump’s fate on Facebook The ruling by the scholars, lawyers, activists and journalists who make up Facebook’s oversight board will reverberate across the world of social media.The so-called Facebook oversight board has been deliberating Trump’s case since January, when he was booted off after the Jan. 6 siege on the Capitol over fears he might incite more violence. Their decision could give the former president back one of his most powerful megaphones or muzzle him permanently on yet another major social media platform.

The Facebook Oversight Board was designed to make some of Facebook ' s most difficult decisions for the company. But on Wednesday the board put one of the biggest dilemmas facing the platform back on Facebook and company CEO Mark Zuckerberg . The board said Facebook was right to suspend Trump in the immediate aftermath of the January 6th insurrection, but said Facebook couldn't just make the suspension "indefinite" with no actual rule on its books allowing for that.

Facebook ’ s Oversight Board on Wednesday upheld the social network’ s temporary suspension of Donald Trump but declined to decide when, or whether, that ban should be lifted. The decision dashed the former president’ s hopes for a swift reinstatement by a body charged with reviewing the As the decision ricochets across the political world, there will be ample debate as to whether the board made the right call . Upholding Mr. Trump ’ s suspension sets a precedent for applying the same rules to world leaders as Facebook does to ordinary users, at least in cases of imminent harm — or perhaps even

"The Board has upheld Facebook's decision on January 7, 2021, to restrict then-President Donald Trump's access to posting content on his Facebook page and Instagram account," the board wrote on Wednesday. It then added these 12 words that I think will likely go down as one of the most importation decisions of the modern age:

"However, it was not appropriate for Facebook to impose an 'indefinite' suspension."

It's a call I agree with. Because the lack of specific standards for engaging on Facebook, the world's most popular social network, with 2.8 billion members, isn't about Trump. It's about the next Trump.

The very idea that an unelected, 36-year-old tech billionaire and social media mogul has any right to unilaterally muzzle the president of the United States "indefinitely" is absurd. Of course Zuckerberg shouldn't have that power, nor should any of us. Aside from Congress or the cabinet taking action as outlined in the Constitution, the president is the president when sworn in as the president.

Trump's Facebook ban to stay in place, board rules

  Trump's Facebook ban to stay in place, board rules Facebook's ban on former President Trump's account will continue following a decision issued by its independent Oversight Board on Wednesday."The Board found that, in maintaining an unfounded narrative of electoral fraud and persistent calls to action, Mr. Trump created an environment where a serious risk of violence was possible," the board wrote in a statement.While the board did uphold the suspension, it also found that the indefinite suspension was not appropriate.The panel is requesting that Facebook review the decision to develop a "proportionate response that is consistent with the rules that are applied to other users of its platform.

Facebook ' s Oversight Board has upheld the social network' s decision to ban Donald Trump following the January 6 storming of the Capitol, however it criticized the way in which Trump was banned in vague and indefinite terms. Several people died during and after the incident, including Ashli Babbitt, a Trump supporter who was shot and killed by a Capitol Police officer for trying to climb through a window. Though Trump called on those involved in the storming to go home and abstain from violence, he continued to claim in posts that the election was rigged, and was subsequently banned from

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the decision to block Trump from Facebook and Instagram on Jan. 7, one day after a group of Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol in a bloody and deadly riot. In the same week, Trump ’ s platform of choice, Twitter, announced the decision Later in January, Facebook defended its blocking of the former president, and said it was referring the call on whether to make the ban permanent to the company’ s independent Oversight Board , which was officially formed in October and is made up of 20 “members from a variety of cultural and professional

The board wants consistency, fairness and transparency -- what any rational person would expect. I certainly do. And with nearly a third of the global population using Facebook's platform every month, I'm thankful the board is forcing Zuckerberg and his executives to be clear about the social network's policies and to take responsibility for the calls it makes about posts on its service.

"This isn't about Trump. It's about the next Trump."

"It is not permissible for Facebook to keep a user off the platform for an undefined period, with no criteria for when or whether the account will be restored," the board added after meeting, discussing and reviewing over 9,000 public comments about the Trump situation. "In applying a vague, standardless penalty and then referring this case to the Board to resolve, Facebook seeks to avoid its responsibilities. The Board declines Facebook's request and insists that Facebook apply and justify a defined penalty."

Donald Trump Will Not Be Allowed Back on Facebook Yet—But a Bigger Showdown Is Coming

  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.

Facebook ’ s rules matter. The oversight board was presented with a binary choice: should it uphold the suspension of Trump from Facebook , or should it overturn it , and force the social network to reinstate the former president to its platform. It picked a third option: refuse to make the choice. And while powerful political players can be given special treatment when it comes to moderation, ensuring that only “specialised staff who are familiar with the linguistic and political context” make calls on their posts, ultimately they must follow the same rules as everyone else.

Facebook ’ s oversight board on Wednesday ruled that Donald Trump ’ s Facebook account should not be reinstated. The scale of Trump ’ s coronavirus misinformation makes the decision to remove him particularly important at this moment in the pandemic, said Jessica J González, the co-chief executive officer of the non-profit anti-hate speech organization Free Press. “Given Trump ’ s history of spreading pandemic disinformation, it ’ s particularly crucial to deny him a megaphone at a time when we’re still struggling to contain the virus and increase vaccinations.”

Facebook said in a blog post that it would review the decision and find a "clear and proportionate" action. Trump will remain suspended in the meantime.

a person standing in front of a building: Trump supporters organized their assault on social media. Getty Images © Provided by CNET Trump supporters organized their assault on social media. Getty Images

Finally, accountability

On Jan. 6, we saw the danger that social media poses to the world in its most ugly display. We saw the US Capitol, the home and symbol of American democracy, ransacked by an angry mob of Trump's supporters after being urged to "walk down to the Capitol" and "fight like hell [or] you're not going to have a country anymore." As they tore through the building, vandalizing offices, erecting a hangman's noose on the front steps and replacing American flags with ones from Trump's campaign, rioters and looters called for the murder of then-Vice President Mike Pence and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. They sprayed a police officer with bear mace (later, he was one of the five people who died in connection with the riot). The rioters beat another officer with a pole wrapped in an American flag.

Facebook Refused to Give Evidence About Role Site Played in Capitol Riot, Oversight Board Says

  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.

Many of the rioters had planned their attack on Facebook and celebrated their violence by posting updates from inside the Capitol. Investigators for the District of Columbia have charged about 400 people in connection with the Capitol siege, according to the BBC.

a close up of a cow with its mouth open: People from many of the internet's ugliest corners participated in the assault. Getty Images © Provided by CNET People from many of the internet's ugliest corners participated in the assault. Getty Images

Amid the chaos, Trump, 74, published a video address form the White House telling the protesters he loved them and knew their pain. "Remember this day forever!" Trump also posted.

I certainly will.

The oversight board, which began hearing cases in October 2020, two years after it was first announced, had a nearly impossible task on its hands when it took up the case of whether to uphold Facebook's unilateral ban of the then-most powerful person in the world.

Holding Facebook accountable for failing to fairly make that call is, in and of itself, the right call here.

The next step will be just as important. Facebook has six months to explain itself, and to create a post hoc process it can apply the next time a Donald Trump -- that is, a leading politician who uses the platform to spread objectively false information -- comes along. (Arguably, that's already happened many times, including in 2017 during the genocide in Myanmar. The UN said Facebook played a "determining role" in fueling the tragedy.)

The Trump Decision Turned Content Moderation Into Shark Week

  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.

Everyone, unhappy

a box on a table: Me, when thinking about Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Getty Images © Provided by CNET Me, when thinking about Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Getty Images

If there's one thing we know about governments of the people, by the people and for the people, it's that they're messy.

Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have failed, embarrassingly and often, to uphold their duties as stewards of the largest social media platforms on the globe. I've advocated that the US government force tech companies to cope with the problem, and I agree with many people that existing laws can be reformed to use a cudgel to force social media companies to appropriately moderate content on their platforms. Twitter imposed a lifetime ban on Trump on Jan. 8, while YouTube said in March that it will reverse its ban on the former president when "the risk of violence has decreased."

But many people are frustrated that, in the meantime, Facebook's oversight board didn't make a decision for the company.

"Facebook's failure to control this content to begin with, and the overwhelming volume of dangerous content that remains on the platform show the inadequacy of the Oversight Board," wrote The Real Facebook Oversight Board, a protest organization created by internet advocates critical of Facebook's failures and attempts to avoid responsibility for them, after the Trump decision was published Wednesday. "Don't be fooled -- Facebook wants a gold star."

It's important that Facebook get this right, and that YouTube and Twitter follow its example. And not just because people like me want them to step up. Dictators around the world are using their platforms in far more dangerous ways than Trump did, stoking violence and worsening divisions in India, the Philippines and Brazil.

Trump may very well end up back on Facebook as a result of all this, and in the meantime, his supporters can repost the comments he releases on his new blog to Facebook and Twitter. But that isn't the point. What matters is that whatever Facebook does, it be consistent, transparent and fair.

The oversight board did its part with the 12 words that held Facebook accountable. And it was right.

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.

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