Facebook Advisory Board Upholds Ban of Donald Trump

Donald Trump addresses crowd at recent presser.
Donald Trump is still not welcome on Facebook and Instagram.Getty Stock Images

Facebook's Oversight Board stood by the company's indefinite ban of Donald Trump, but said the social media giant should make a permanent decision within six months.

Facebook was justified in its decision to ban then-President Donald Trump over his role in the January Capitol riots, an advisory board to the social media giant ruled on Wednesday.

But the company-appointed Oversight Board of journalists, activists and lawyers said Facebook was wrong to issue an indefinite ban and said officials have six months to either restore Trump's account, suspend him for a finite period or ban him permanently. 

“Our sole job is to hold this extremely powerful organization, Facebook, to be held accountable,” Michael McConnell, co-chair of the Oversight Board, said on a call with reporters. The ban on Trump “did not meet these standards,” he said.

Trump's Facebook and Instagram accounts were closed indefinitely in January after his supporters stormed the nation's seat of government with members of Congress inside. The company said he used his account to "incite violent insurrection." Other social networks also booted Trump and Twitter banned him for life.

During his presidency, Trump used his social accounts as a bully pulpit to foment misinformation, including false claims that the 2020 presidential election was rife with corruption and voter fraud. His suspensions prompted fierce debates on free speech issues and the vast power held by social media companies to control, and some claim manipulate, public discourse.

On Tuesday, Trump announced a new site, “From the desk of Donald J. Trump,” to address his supporters. It resembles Twitter, with posts that can be shared on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Responding to Wednesday's decision by the Facebook advisory board, Trump said in a statement, “Free Speech has been taken away from the President of the United States because the Radical Left Lunatics are afraid of the truth, but the truth will come out anyway, bigger and stronger than ever before.” 

The panel found Facebook's decision to indefinitely suspend Trump was "arbitrary" and that the company should devise a clear practice for removing posters.

A lack of transparency have led to confusion and claims of bias against Facebook, said McConnell after Wednesday's board decision.

"When you do not have clarity, consistency and transparency, there's no way to know," he said. "And much of the reason for demanding consistency and transparency is so that this can be revealed."

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