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Thread: Oversight Board Says Facebook, Not Trump, Is The Problem

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    Oversight Board Says Facebook, Not Trump, Is The Problem

    Facebook has almost 2 billion daily users, annual revenue that rivals some countries' gross domestic product, and even its own version of a Supreme Court: the Oversight Board, which the company created to review its toughest decisions on what people can post on its platforms.

    This week, the board faced its biggest test to date when it ruled on whether Facebook should let former President Donald Trump back on its social network.

    The board upheld the company's decision to remove Trump after the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol — finding he had broken Facebook's rules about praising violence — but it criticized the indefinite suspension and kicked the case back to the company either to ban Trump permanently or set a time frame for when he can return.

    Former Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt, a board co-chair, even called the company "a bit lazy" for failing to set a specific penalty in the first place.

    Facebook said it's now considering the ruling and will determine a "clear and proportionate" action.

    The board's response in this case may have been more than Facebook was counting on when it set up the advisory body. But the decision — and the public response to it this week — reveals just how big a challenge Facebook's scale and power present to anyone who wants to hold the company to account.

    "They can't invent penalties as they go along"

    In many respects, the decision the board handed down is more about Facebook than it is about Trump.

    The board zeroed in on something critics have said for a long time: The way Facebook enforces its rules can seem arbitrary. It's often unclear what rules are being applied and why.

    When it came to Trump, the board said that an indefinite suspension appeared nowhere in its rule book and violates principles of freedom of expression.

    "What we are telling Facebook is that they can't invent penalties as they go along. They have to stick to their own rules," Thorning-Schmidt said in an interview with Axios.

    She said that kind of arbitrary decision, made on the fly, has helped fuel claims that Facebook is biased...

    Oversight Board Says Facebook, Not Trump, Is The Problem : NPR

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