Jan. 22 (UPI) — Facebook announced Thursday its Oversight Board will review the social media company’s indefinite ban on former President Donald Trump.
Any decisions made by the independent body are “binding” and can’t be overruled by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg or anyone else at the company.
The company indefinitely banned Trump on Jan. 7, one day after his supporters attacked the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to disrupt Congress from certifying the Electoral College votes in favor of President Joe Biden.
The riots “clearly demonstrate that President Donald Trump intends to use his remaining time in office to undermine the peaceful and lawful transition of power” and show he is intent on using Facebook “to incite violent insurrection against a democratically elected government,” Zuckerberg said when announcing the ban.
Nick Clegg, Facebook’s vice president of global affairs and communications, said Thursday the ban was put in place for at least two weeks to ensure it ran through the end of Trump’s term in office. He said the company is referring the case to the Oversight Board now that Biden’s inauguration has taken place.
The Oversight Board is made up of a group of “experts and civic leaders from around the world with a wide range of backgrounds and perspectives,” according to Facebook. While the board makes its decision, Trump will remain suspended indefinitely.
“The reaction to our decision shows the delicate balance private companies are being asked to strike,” Clegg wrote in a blog post. “Some said that Facebook should have banned President Trump long ago, and that the violence on the Capitol was itself a product of social media; others that it was an unacceptable display of unaccountable corporate power over political speech.”
Clegg said Facebook established the Oversight Board because some people are “uncomfortable” with private companies having the power to unilaterally silence elected leaders on their platforms.
Media watchdog Media Matters urged Facebook on Thursday to make the suspension permanent, stating it should have done so long ago.
“Facebook’s refusal to draw a line and take decisive action, even though the case against Trump is clear, is dangerous,” Media Matters for America President Angelo Carusone said in a statement. “Facebook dragging this out could very well lead to more political violence in the future.”
Carusone accused Trump of using the social media platform similarly to how it has been used by QAnon conspiracists, which Facebook has been deplatforming in the thousands.
On Tuesday, Facebook announced it had removed 16,200 Facebook profiles and 25,000 Instagram accounts from August to Nov. 30 for violating its policy against QAnon.
Facebook didn’t require the Oversight Board to take action on those accounts, Carusone said.
“The half-measure to suspend him through Inauguration Day was already too little, too late,” he said.
In the wake of the Capitol attack, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and Twitch also banned Trump, whom critics accused of inciting the riots that killed five people. He has also been impeached on the charge of inciting the insurrection.