Facebook’s Oversight Board, an independent and international body founded and funded by the social network, plans to announce on Wednesday whether former President Donald J. Trump can return to the platform that was created for him and his tens critical megaphone was of millions of followers.
The decision is seen as a template for how private social networking companies handle political language, including the misinformation disseminated by political leaders.
Mr Trump was indefinitely banned from Facebook on Jan. 7 after using his social media accounts to convince a mob of his supporters to storm the Capitol the day before. Mr Trump had refused to accept his election defeat, saying the election had been stolen from him.
At the time Facebook banned Mr. Trump, the company’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, wrote in a post: “We believe the risk that the president will continue to use our service during this time is simply too great.”
Two weeks later, the company referred Mr Trump’s case to Facebook’s oversight board for a final decision on whether the ban should be permanent. Facebook and the board members said the panel’s decisions are binding, but critics are skeptical of the board’s independence. Critics said the panel is a unique Supreme Court-like company in the online language field, funded by a private company with a poor track record of enforcing its own rules.
Facebook’s approach to political speech was inconsistent. In October 2019, Mr. Zuckerberg stated the company would not review the political speech, saying that even lies from politicians deserved a place on the social network as it was in the public’s interest to hear any ideas from political leaders. But Mr Trump’s comments on Jan. 6 were different, the company said, because they incited violence and threatened peaceful elections in power.
On Monday, Mr. Trump continued to contest the election results.
“The fraudulent 2020 presidential election will be known as THE BIG LIE from that day!” he said in a statement emailed.