Facebook will let an independent oversight board decide whether Donald Trump remains banned from the social network for good.
The board —which is made up of legal, tech, and human rights experts—was created late last year to act as a high court for Facebook’s content-moderation issues. Now it’ll have the final say on Trump’s account even if the company itself objects to the ruling.
“It is an independent body and its decisions are binding—they can’t be overruled by CEO Mark Zuckerberg or anyone else at Facebook,” the social network said in Thursday’s announcement.
The company decided to indefinitely suspend the former president’s account on Facebook and Instagram over fears he might incite more violence in the wake of pro-Trump supporters storming the US Capitol on Jan. 6. “We believe our decision was necessary and right,” Facebook VP Nick Clegg wrote in Thursday’s post. Nevertheless, the company wants the oversight board to review the matter to reach an independent conclusion.
Ideally it would be up to democratically elected governments to determine what gets censored, “but in the absence of such laws, there are decisions that we cannot duck,” Clegg said.
“We look forward to receiving the board’s decision—and we hope, given the clear justification for our actions on January 7, that it will uphold the choices we made,” he added.
In its own statement, the oversight board said it plans on reviewing the case “as promptly as possible while ensuring that the review process is thorough and principled.” The board plans on giving itself 90 days to decide the matter. During the review, Trump and his team will also have a chance to explain why his accounts should be reinstated.
In addition, the 20-member board plans on opening a process for “all interested individuals and organizations to submit public comments” on the case. “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,” it said.
“As with all our cases, the board is committed to being transparent about our work, and the case decision will be published on the board’s website. The decision 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,” the board added. Facebook will then have up to seven days to implement the decision.