By Michael Ge
After the January 6th riot, the social media company Facebook made the decision to suspend then-President Donald Trump’s Facebook account until at least January 20 – the end of Trump’s term. The decision, along with Twitter’s decision to permanently ban Trump, has drawn ire and concerns from many. Republican lawmakers have been especially vocal about Trump’s bans from social media. A permanent decision on whether or not to keep Trump suspended has been left up to Facebook’s Oversight Board.
The Facebook Oversight Board was created in 2018 as a “Supreme Court” to oversee the decisions made by Facebook. It was created with the power to overrule any decision made by the company – including the ability to overrule any decision made by Facebook. The first members of the oversight board were announced in 2020. Members of the Oversight Board consist of law professors, lawyers, journalists, and others.
On May 5, the Oversight Board reached its decision. The Board upheld Facebook’s decision to suspend Trump. The Board also ruled that Facebook had to assess Trump’s ban in six months and follow a clear procedure on whether or not to lift Trump’s ban or to keep Trump’s account banned. Facebook did not make a formal statement on the Board’s ruling. June 4 is the deadline for Facebook’s response to the decision made by the Board. The Board’s decision will undoubtedly be seen as justified by many, but opens many questions as to whether or not free speech will be protected on social media.