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Technology

Ruling on Trump ban marks defining moment for Facebook panel

  • "This Facebook oversight decision is a key litmus test for whether country-sized technology companies can effectively regulate themselves," said Lindsay Gorman, emerging technologies fellow at the nonprofit Alliance for Securing Democracy.
05 May 2021

WASHINGTON: Facebook's independent oversight board rules Wednesday on the platform's ban of former US president Donald Trump in a case that could set a precedent for how social media handles harmful content from world leaders.

The ruling, set for release at 1300 GMT Wednesday, is likely to be a defining moment for the leading social network's so-called "supreme court" envisioned by company founder Mark Zuckerberg to make thorny decisions on what to allow or remove from Facebook.

The oversight board, which makes decisions that are binding on Facebook and cannot be appealed, will rule on whether to leave the Trump ban in place or allow him back on the platform. It may also make related recommendations to the California-based social giant.

"This is a huge decision, it's getting a lot of attention and deservedly so," said Daniel Kreiss, University of North Carolina professor and researcher specializing in politics and social media.

"This is significant for the global precedent it will set. If they uphold the ruling, I think you will see more robust enforcement around the world."

The oversight panel, comprised of jurists, policy experts, journalists and others from across the globe, will make perhaps its most significant decision at a time when social platforms are struggling to remain open to political discourse while filtering out incitements to violence, misinformation and abusive comments.

"This Facebook oversight decision is a key litmus test for whether country-sized technology companies can effectively regulate themselves," said Lindsay Gorman, emerging technologies fellow at the nonprofit Alliance for Securing Democracy.

The oversight board is Facebook's "best attempt to stave off looming government regulation," Gorman added.