Moments ago, Facebook’s “Oversight Board” agreed with Facebook's decision to suspend former President Donald Trump from the platform, but insisted that Facebook have another process within the next six months for determining if Trump should be permanently banned from the platform.
In short, we'll be having this conversation again within the next six months.
In response to the announcement, Angelo Carusone, president of Media Matters for America, issued this statement:
It’s appropriate that Trump will remain off Facebook. But it never should have been up for debate. And although Trump wasn’t reinstated today, the platform still remains a simmering cauldron of violent extremism and dangerous disinformation. Not overturning Facebook’s original decision today is less than the bare minimum, and insufficient to address the larger problems on the platform.
But this whole affair is actually harmful in another way. Ultimately, talking about the Oversight Board as if it is anything other than a fig leaf and proxy for Facebook is a win for Facebook’s efforts to further shirk responsibility. This decision will make Facebook less likely to address the harms on its platform, not more, which means it is only a matter of time before that cauldron bubbles over again as it did on January 6.
Every other major platform that Trump used banned him based on his abuses and the continued threat he posed. No theatrics and no drama. Facebook knew what needed to be done all along. Instead of addressing the core problems in its platform, the company exploited this fragile moment in our society in order to sell us the fiction of this oversight group. Don’t buy it. Now, they’re kicking the can down the road again.
Unless Facebook permanently bans Trump immediately, we will be having this same dramatic sideshow six months from now.
Media Matters has tracked Trump’s Facebook posts and his impact on the larger public conversation for years. In an analysis of Trump’s posts between January 1, 2020, and January 6, 2021 (when he was banned from the platform), Media Matters found that Trump pushed misinformation about COVID-19 and election fraud or violent rhetoric attacking his critics in more than 1,400 separate posts -- more than a quarter of his posts during that period.