Facebook has suspended the accounts of former US President Donald Trump following the Jan.6 siege on the US Capitol by his supporters.
Facebook Inc said Thursday it was deferring its decision to indefinitely suspend former U.S. President Donald Trump’s accounts to its independent supervisory board.
Trump will remain suspended while the board of directors, a newly formed body that can overturn the company’s decisions on content, reviews the decision.
Facebook has blocked Trump’s access to his Facebook and Instagram accounts over fears of further violent unrest after supporters of the former president stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6.
“I am very confident in our case,” Nick Clegg, Facebook’s head of global affairs, told Reuters news agency. “I have no doubt that any reasonable person who reviews the circumstances under which we made this decision and who reviews our existing policies will agree.”
“But of course, it was a decision that had repercussions around the world,” he added. This is the first time that the company has blocked a current president, prime minister or head of state.
Facebook has not requested a fast-track review, so the board, which said Thursday it had accepted the case, will have up to 90 days to make a decision and for Facebook to act on it. . A spokesperson for the Facebook Oversight Board said it would likely be sooner than that.
Administrators of Trump’s Facebook page will have the option to submit a written statement challenging Facebook’s decision.
Facebook had also asked the board to provide recommendations on when political leaders can or should be blocked. Facebook does not have to follow up on this recommendation, contrary to the decision of the board of directors, which is intended to be binding.
The supervisory board, which currently has 20 members, was created by Facebook in response to criticism of its handling of problematic content.
“This is why we are here, not to leave these decisions to the management of Facebook, but to use the Supervisory Board to consider this in a reasoned way,” said Helle Thorning-Schmidt, co-chair of the board and former Danish Prime Minister. minister.
The board, which has been criticized for its delayed start and limited remit, has yet to decide on its first batch of cases.
Facebook said when it suspended Trump that the lockdown would last at least until the end of Trump’s presidential term and possibly indefinitely. Trump’s term expired on Wednesday when Joe Biden was sworn in as president.
Twitter Inc has suspended Trump permanently.
Trump was not notified until Facebook’s decision to indefinitely suspend him, Clegg said.
“Although it was a controversial decision because he was President of the United States, it was actually not a particularly complicated decision to make,” he said, adding that he felt there was had a “crystal clear connection” between what Trump said. and the actions of the people on the United States Capitol.
Facebook and other social media companies have come under fire for the proliferation of violent rhetoric and election disinformation on their platforms, including by Trump and his allies. This criticism has only increased around the unrest on Capitol Hill, which has also been instigated and organized on social media platforms.
When asked if Facebook bore partial responsibility for the actions that led to the assault on Capitol Hill, Clegg said, “I accept that there will always be people who say we knew this was going to happen. produce. Dare I say it, I don’t think it’s ever that easy.
He said he did not expect any further major political changes as a result of recent events.
“I … don’t want to raise any hope that because of an event, so we will make some very significant course corrections which then have to be applied, because we are a global company with global standards, by the way. of the world too ”. he said.