Facebook Oversight Board Will Decide If Trump Is Banned Forever

Facebook's independent oversight board will rule if former President Donald Trump can regain access to his Facebook and Instagram accounts after his social media access was suspended in the wake of the violent pro-Trump riots that attacked the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. The social media platform announced Thursday that it expects its oversight board to confirm the company's decision to suspend Trump's accounts after he used the website to incite violence.

"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," Facebook vice president of global affairs Nick Clegg wrote in a blog post. "This has never happened before — and we hope it will never happen again. It was an unprecedented set of events which called for unprecedented action."

Given the significance of the move, Clegg wrote it was "important" for the board to review the decision and reach an independent judgment on whether or not it should be upheld. The oversight board's ruling cannot be overturned by anyone else at the company. While the case is under review, Trump's accounts will remain suspended. The public will have an opportunity to comment on the case beginning next week and Trump himself will also be able to submit a statement to the board.

On Jan. 7, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that Trump would be banned from Facebook and Instagram at least through the inauguration of President Joe Biden. "We believe the risks of allowing the President to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great," he wrote in a statement at the time. "Therefore, we are extending the block we have placed on his Facebook and Instagram accounts indefinitely and for at least the next two weeks until the peaceful transition of power is complete."

Just two days later, Twitter also announced that Trump would be banned from its platform "due to the risk of further incitement of violence," explaining that while it had a "public interest framework" in place so its users can "hear from elected officials and world leaders directly," the former U.S. leader had pushed the limits of that framework too far. "We made it clear going back years that these accounts are not above our rules entirely and cannot use Twitter to incite violence, among other things," the company noted. "We will continue to be transparent around our policies and their enforcement."