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Facebook Oversight Board Upholds Trump Ban, Calls for Further ‘Reexamination’ to Determine Final Penalty

Facebook Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies at a House Financial Services Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., October 23, 2019. (Erin Scott/Reuters)

Facebook’s Oversight Board ruled on Wednesday morning to uphold the suspension of former President Trump, after banning him from the platform in the wake of the January 6 riot at the Capitol.

However, the Board also called on Facebook to “reexamine” the indefinite nature of the ban, ordering the company to decide on an “appropriate penalty” within six months. The ruling leaves open the possibility that Facebook will restore Trump’s account at some point in the future.

“If Facebook determines that Mr. Trump’s accounts should be restored, Facebook should apply its rules to that decision,” the ruling states.

The Board upheld Facebook’s decision to temporarily ban Trump after the riots, saying two of the president’s posts on January 6 violated company guidelines.

“The Board found that, in maintaining an unfounded narrative of electoral fraud and persistent calls to action, Mr. Trump created an environment where a serious risk of violence was possible,” according to the ruling. “At the time of Mr. Trump’s posts, there was a clear, immediate risk of harm and his words of support for those involved in the riots legitimized their violent actions.”

The Board is made up of 20 people, five of which are selected at random to review cases that reach its purview. Facebook as well as users can refer cases to the board.

Facebook also blocked the former president from using Instagram after the riots.

“We believe the risks of allowing the President to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on January 7. “Therefore, we are extending the block we have placed on his Facebook and Instagram accounts indefinitely and for at least the next two weeks until the peaceful transition of power is complete.”

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Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.

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