Facebook’s independent oversight board keeps ban on former US president Donald Trump but demands social media giant determine a consistent response with rules that are applied to other users of the platform.

Facebook's independent oversight board upheld the platform's ban on former US president Donald Trump on May 5, 2021.
Facebook's independent oversight board upheld the platform's ban on former US president Donald Trump on May 5, 2021. (AFP)

Facebook has said former president Donald Trump won’t return to the platform — for now.

The social network’s quasi-independent Oversight Board voted to uphold his ban from the platform after his account was suspended four months ago for inciting violence that led to the deadly January 6 Capitol riot.

"Given the seriousness of the violations and the ongoing risk of violence, Facebook was justified in suspending Mr. Trump's accounts on January 6 and extending that suspension on January 7," the board said after its review.

While upholding the suspension, the board faulted Facebook in a statement for the way it made the decision.

The board said it “was not appropriate for Facebook to impose an ‘indefinite’ suspension" and that the platform was seeking to avoid its responsibilities by applying “a vague, standardless penalty” and then referring the case to the board to resolve.

“Indefinite penalties of this sort do not pass the international smell test," oversight board co-chair Michael McConnell said in a conference call with reporters. 

“We are not cops, reigning over the realm of social media.”

READ MORE: Twitter, Facebook block Donald Trump's accounts from posting

Trump reiterates election fraud claim 

Trump reiterated his claims that voter fraud caused his election loss to Joe Biden last November, shortly after Facebook oversight board ruling.

"Had gutless and clueless MINORITY Leader Mitch McConnell ... fought to expose all of the corruption that was presented at the time, with more found since, we would have had a far different Presidential result," he said in a statement. 

The board agreed with Facebook that that two of Trump’s posts “severely violated” the content standards of both Facebook and Instagram.

“We love you. You’re very special,” he said in the first post, and “great patriots” and “remember this day forever” in the second.

Those violated Facebook’s rules against praising or supporting people engaged in violence, the board said.

Helle Thorning-Schmidt, a former Danish prime minister who sits on the board, said in the call that Facebook shirked its responsibility to enforce its own rules. 

“Facebook should either permanently disable Trump’s account or propose a suspension for a specific period of time,” she said.

READ MORE:  Without Twitter, Donald Trump wakes up to a cyberpunk nightmare

Reexamine 'arbitrary penalty'

The board says Facebook has six months to reexamine the “arbitrary penalty” it imposed on January 7 and decide on another penalty that reflects the “gravity of the violation and the prospect of future harm.”

The board says the new penalty must be “clear, necessary and proportionate” and consistent with Facebook’s rules for severe violations.

The board says if Facebook decides to restore Trump’s accounts, the company must be able to promptly address further violations.

A Trump spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The board, which has 20 members and will eventually grow to 40, did not reveal how it voted. 

It said a minority of members emphasised that Facebook should require users who seek reinstatement after being suspended to “recognise their wrongdoing and commit to observing the rules in the future.”

Trump has also been permanently banned from Twitter.

READ MORE: Where is Donald Trump?

Source: TRTWorld and agencies