In doing so, the board ruled that the company needed to work out commensurate sanctions for violations of the platform’s rules.
Facebook’s oversight board on Wednesday upheld the company’s decision to block former U.S. President Donald Trump’s accounts, but ruled that it needed to develop “proportionate responses” for the future within six months. The verdict could affect how social networks deal with world leaders who violate the platforms’ rules.
The council found the company’s decision to block the account indefinitely without clear standards to be inappropriate and demanded an internal review. The council also said Facebook should develop a response that is consistent with the rules that apply to other users of the platform.
“Facebook has upheld the blocking indefinitely and referred the issue to the Oversight Board, apparently hoping the board will do what the company itself has not done,” said board co-chairman and former federal judge Michael McConnell during a news conference after the decision was released Wednesday.
McConnell added that “indefinite sanctions of this kind” do not meet international or U.S. standards of consistency and transparency.
Facebook indefinitely blocked Trump’s access to his Facebook and Instagram accounts because of fears of further unrest following the January attack on the Capitol by the former president’s supporters.
“We will now review the board’s decision and come up with clear and proportionate measures,” Nick Clegg, Facebook’s vice president of global affairs and communications, wrote in a blog post. – For now, Mr. Trump’s accounts will remain blocked.”
In recent years, technology platforms have been trying to figure out how to control world leaders and politicians who violate their rules. Facebook has been criticized both by those who think the company should abandon its policy of non-interference and by those who see the blocking of Trump’s accounts as a manifestation of censorship.
“This is a sad day for America, but an even sadder (day) for all the companies like Facebook that are used to existing in a Wild West-style regulatory environment,” former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said on Fox News.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy wrote on Twitter: “Facebook wants to act as a Democratic political action committee, not a platform for free speech and open debate. If they can block President Trump, all conservatives could be next in line. A Republican majority in the House of Representatives would limit the power of the tech giants over our freedom of speech.”
Trump was permanently blocked on Twitter, where he had more than 88 million followers.
Trump, who continues to send out brief comments about election fraud via email, wrote Monday, “The rigged 2020 presidential election will be remembered as a huge lie.”
On Tuesday, Trump launched a new Web page to share messages that readers can share on their Facebook or Twitter pages. An aide to the former president also revealed that Trump plans to launch his own social network.