At the same time, the board decided that the company needs to develop proportionate sanctions for violations of the platform’s rules.
Facebook’s supervisory board on Wednesday upheld the company’s decision to block the accounts of former US President Donald Trump but ruled that “proportionate responses” for the future must be developed within six months. This verdict may affect how social networks will deal with world leaders who violate the rules of the platforms.
The board found it inappropriate for the company to block the account indefinitely without clear standards and demanded an internal review. The board also said that Facebook should develop a response that is consistent with the rules that apply to other users of the platform.
“Facebook has upheld the lockdown indefinitely and referred the matter to the Supervisory Board, apparently hoping that the board will do something that the company itself has not done,” said Michael McConnell, the board’s co-chairman and former federal judge, during a press conference after the decision was published on Wednesday.
McConnell added that “indefinite sanctions of this kind” do not meet international or American standards of consistency and transparency.
Facebook has indefinitely blocked Trump’s access to his social media accounts on Facebook and Instagram due to concerns about further unrest after the January attack by supporters of the former president on the Capitol.
“We will now review the council’s decision and work out clear and proportionate measures,” Nick Clegg, Facebook’s vice president of global affairs and communications, wrote in a blog post. “In the meantime, Mr. Trump’s accounts will remain blocked.”
In recent years, technology platforms have been trying to figure out how to control world leaders and politicians who break their rules. Facebook has been criticized both by those who believe that the company should abandon its laissez-faire policy and by those who consider the blocking of Trump’s accounts a manifestation of censorship.
“This is a sad day for America, but an even sadder day for all companies like Facebook, which are used to existing in a Wild West-style regulatory environment,” former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said on Fox News.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy tweeted: “Facebook wants to act as a Democratic political action committee, not as a platform for free speech and open debate. If they can block President Trump, then all the conservatives could be next in line. A Republican majority in the House of Representatives would limit the power of the tech giants over our freedom of speech.”
Trump was permanently blocked on Twitter, where he had more than 88 million followers.
Trump, who continues to send out brief comments about election fraud via email, wrote on Monday: “The rigged 2020 presidential election will be remembered as a huge lie.” On Tuesday, Trump launched a new web page for messaging that readers can share on their Facebook or Twitter pages. An aide to the former president also said that Trump plans to launch his own social network.