The Oversight Board, constituted last year to examine content takedowns on the Facebook and Instagram, accepted a case referral from Facebook to examine their decision to indefinitely suspend former US President Donald Trump’s access to post content on Facebook and Instagram.
Facebook has also requested policy recommendations from the Board on suspensions when the user is a political leader, the Oversight Board said in a statement.
There are 20 global members of the Oversight Board, whose job is to examine content taken down from Facebook and Instagram. In due course, the board will also look at content removal requests in real time.
Facebook’s decision to suspend Trump’s access to post on Facebook and Instagram on January 7, 2021, has driven intense global interest.
"A decision by the Board on this case will be binding on Facebook, and determine whether Mr. Trump’s suspension from access to Facebook and Instagram for an indefinite amount of time is overturned. Facebook has committed not to restore access to its platforms unless directed by a decision of the Oversight Board. Facebook must consider any accompanying policy recommendations from the Board, and publicly respond to them," the Oversight Board statement added.
The Board was created to provide a critical independent check on Facebook’s approach to the most challenging content issues, which have enormous implications for global human rights and free expression.
Explaining how the Board will decide this case, the Oversight Board said "the case will be assigned to a five-member case review panel in accordance with our Bylaws and Rulebook. After the panel reaches a decision, its findings are shared with the entire Board. Sign-off by a majority of the Board is required for a case decision to be issued".
Members will decide whether the content involved in this case violated Facebook’s Community Standards and values. They will also consider whether Facebook’s removal of the content respected international human rights standards, including freedom of expression and other human rights.
Mr. Trump, through his designated page administrators, will have the ability to submit a user statement to the Board explaining why he believes Facebook’s content moderation decisions should be overturned. Facebook will also share contextual information and a detailed explanation for their existing content decisions in this case. The Board will also open a process for all interested individuals and organizations to submit public comments to share any insights and perspectives with the Board that they believe will assist with making a decision.
The Board’s Bylaws set an outer limit of 90 days as the time within which it must make a decision. The case decision will be published on the Board's website and will present the key information used by the panel to reach a decision, along with an explanation on how the panel reached its final conclusions.
Following publication, Facebook will have up to seven days to implement the case decision. Facebook must also respond publicly to any policy recommendations the Board has made within its decision within 30 days.