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Facebook Decides Whether or Not to Let Donald Trump Rejoin

Last Played: May 05, 2021
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Today, an independent board will decide if former President Donald Trump will be allowed to rejoin Facebook's social network.
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will Donald trump ever be allowed back on facebook. The former president hasn't been able to post since early january when the social network said he used his account to quote, incite violent insurrection at the US capitol facebook's new oversight board has been reviewing that decision and today we will learn the verdict we should note. Facebook is among NPR's financial supporters. NPR tech correspondent Shannon Bond is following this story. Good morning Shannon Hi no. Well what is at stake here for donald trump and for facebook? Well, you know these facebook and instagram accounts, there are big megaphone for trump. He has tens of millions of followers there. And remember this was a very divisive decision that facebook made trump supporters. Republicans have pointed to it as an example of how tech companies are politically biased. Critics like including many civil rights groups say this band was long overdue because you know, they say trump repeatedly broke facebook's rules. Now, facebook has in the past taking in a few posts of trump's found but has largely been very hands off when it comes to political speech. The company gives a lot of leeway that changed after the events of the capital facebook suspended trump indefinitely. It said it was just too risky to let him keep posting. And the company says this was the right decision in extraordinary circumstances. But it also acknowledges what critics are saying that this is a lot of power, right in the hands of a private company and that's why it's turned this decision over to this new oversight board and what is the oversight board, exactly who's on it? What do they do? Right? So this is a board facebook launched it named its initial members almost a year ago. And the idea is the board acts as the final arbiter of the hardest calls that facebook makes about what content users can post. When ceo, Mark Zuckerberg first talked about this idea, he talked about it is almost a Supreme Court for facebook, and facebook has agreed to follow the board's decisions. Um It's funded by facebook through an independent trust, but yes, ultimately it's the creation of of this company and a lot of critics say it's not really that independent. So this ruling is going to be a big test of whether the board is seen as independent or whether it's seen as a cover to let facebook duck responsibility for these very hard decisions. I am interested in this comparison to the Supreme Court, so who is on it? Right. So it's currently made up of 20 international experts from around the world. These are specialists in law and human rights. There's a Nobel peace laureate from Yemen, the former prime minister of Denmark. The way it's gonna work is five members of the board judge. Each case, their their names are not made public and then they're ruling has to be approved by a majority of the full board. And what they're considering is Facebook's own rules, but also international human rights principles. They consult outside experts and they solicit comments from the public. They got more than 9000 public comments in Trump's case, and they've also gotten a statement from Trump 9000 public comments. Do you have any sense of how the board is leaning? Well, that is the real question here, right? We've only had a few handful of decisions from this board, which has really only been actually up and running since october. Um and in all of those were cases where facebook took down a post for breaking its rules, and in the majority of those rulings, the board overturned facebook, it reinstated the content And that's an indication, I think that these board members, you know, way freedom of expression very strongly, but at the same time, you know, it's a it's a small number to go on. And this trump cases just so unprecedented. This is a world leader right being banned from a massive social platform with billions of users. You know, this could set a precedent for how facebook treats posts by other global political leaders, and also even be a model for other companies that are struggling to figure out how to balance speech rights against potential harms. So ultimately, I think it's really hard to know how they're going to rule here until we actually see the ruling and the justification for it. And we will later today, NPR's Shannon von Thanks, Shannon, Thanks no.
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