Facebook Referring Trump Ban to Oversight Board

Following the deadly Capitol attack, Facebook sends its decision to indefinitely suspend Donald Trump's accounts to its oversight board.
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Facebook  (FB) - Get Report said Thursday that it was referring its decision to indefinitely suspend former President Donald Trump's Facebook and Instagram accounts to its independent oversight board.

Facebook blocked Trump's access to the social-media platforms after the Jan. 6 attack at the Capitol, where angry Trump supporters, wrongly believing the election results were fraudulent, stormed the iconic building.

The incident resulted in the deaths of five people, including a Capitol police officer, and Trump's second impeachment for allegedly inciting the riot.

Twitter  (TWTR) - Get Report also permanently suspended Trump's account.

"We believe our decision was necessary and right," Nick Clegg, vice president of global affairs and communications, said in a blog post. 

"Given its significance, we think it is important for the board to review it and reach an independent judgment on whether it should be upheld."

Trump’s access will remain suspended until the board makes its decision, Clegg said. The board cannot overruled by Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg or anyone else at Facebook, he added.

"Our decision to suspend then-President Trump’s access was taken in extraordinary circumstances: a U.S. president actively fomenting a violent insurrection designed to thwart the peaceful transition of power; five people killed; legislators fleeing the seat of democracy," Clegg said. 

"This has never happened before — and we hope it will never happen again."

The riot, Clegg continued, "was an unprecedented set of events which called for unprecedented action."

Social media came under heavy criticism after the insurrection. 

"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.

The Menlo Park, Calif., social-media giant took the view, he continued, "that in open democracies people have a right to hear what their politicians are saying — the good, the bad and the ugly — so that they can be held to account."

"But it has never meant that politicians can say whatever they like," Clegg said. "They remain subject to our policies banning the use of our platform to incite violence."

Trump's Facebook account has more than 35 million followers and his personal Instagram account nearly 25 million, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Trump will have the opportunity to submit a statement to the independent panel on why Facebook's content-moderation decisions should be overturned.

Members of the public will also be able to share their insights and perspectives with the panel.

The oversight board, made up of academics, lawyers and others, was established by Facebook last year. Its decision will be made public.

Facebook shares at last check were up 2.1% to $273.04.