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Facebook Oversight Board upholds Donald Trump ban

Former President Donald Trump was banned from Facebook and other social platforms after his January 6 Save America rally near the White House and the attack on the U.S. Capitol that followed. File Pool Photo by Shawn Thew/UPI
Former President Donald Trump was banned from Facebook and other social platforms after his January 6 "Save America" rally near the White House and the attack on the U.S. Capitol that followed. File Pool Photo by Shawn Thew/UPI | License Photo

May 5 (UPI) -- The Facebook Oversight Board ruled Wednesday that former President Donald Trump will remain banned from the social media platform.

Trump was banned indefinitely from Facebook after the Jan. 6 attack by pro-Trump radicals at the U.S. Capitol and his posts related to the riot. The decision to uphold the ban had been turned over to the Oversight Board, an independent international body of 20 experts who review's the platform's weightier access decisions.

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The ban also goes for Instagram, which is owned by Facebook.

The Oversight Board was tasked with reviewing Facebook's decision, which it said was mostly correct.

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"The board has upheld Facebook's decision on Jan. 7, 2021, to restrict then-President Donald Trump's access to posting content on his Facebook page and Instagram account," the board wrote.

"However, it was not appropriate for Facebook to impose the indeterminate and standardless penalty of indefinite suspension. Facebook's normal penalties include removing the violating content, imposing a time-bound period of suspension, or permanently disabling the page and account.

"The board insists that Facebook review this matter to determine and justify a proportionate response that is consistent with the rules that are applied to other users of its platform. Facebook must complete its review of this matter within six months."

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The board also recommended that Facebook develop "clear, necessary and proportionate" policies that promote public safety and respect freedom of expression.

The board regularly reviews appeals about content decisions, such as removing or not removing particular posts on Facebook and Instagram. Facebook says decisions made by the board are final.

"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," Nick Clegg, Facebook's vice president of global affairs, said in January when the platform suspended Trump's account.

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Conservatives howled that it was the latest example of Facebook and other social media giants like Twitter and YouTube trying to silence conservative voices while not holding liberals to the same standards.

Critics have also questioned the independence of the Oversight Board, as it's paid for by Facebook and only seeks to absolve Facebook of any consequences from the decisions made.

The board, though, has overruled Facebook on six of nine previous banning decisions since it was formed last October. It has upheld Facebook bans twice and could not complete a ruling in the other case.

Wednesday's decision is expected to have some influence on how other social platforms like Twitter and YouTube handle their suspensions of Trump's accounts.

Siege aftermath: damage to historic U.S. Capitol

Capitol Hill police salute the passing of the funeral hearse on Sunday for slain Officer Brian Sicknick, who died in the rioting at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. Photo by Mike Theiler/UPI | License Photo

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