🧑‍⚖️ Inside the Facebook oversight board’s Trump decision

The Supreme Court of Facebook made its biggest ruling yet last week, telling Facebook it had to decide Donald Trump’s social media fate on its own. 

  • In January, Facebook suspended Trump indefinitely: The move followed an incendiary post by Trump on the day of the capitol riot. 

  • Facebook then asked its board of journalists, activists, professors, and former politicians about the suspension: Zuckerberg, as the New York Times reports, has compared the board to the Supreme Court, saying it was “made up of independent folks who don’t work for Facebook who ultimately get to make the final judgment call on what should be acceptable speech in a community.” Zuck saw the board as a mechanism for making decisions -- which Facebook says are binding --  that are too important for the company itself to make.

  • And this was a huge decision: The board agreed Facebook was justified in suspending Trump but said the suspension should not have been indefinite because the company had no established policies for making such a move. It told Facebook to decide whether to ban Trump forever or put him back on the platform, ironically giving Zuckerberg and other execs the power to make the type of consequential moves he didn’t want.   

Consider this a Marbury v. Madison moment

The advisory board illustrated its independence from Facebook and also acted a lot like the real Supreme Court. As Michael Barbaro commented on The Daily, “Facebook’s ‘Supreme Court’ is kicking a case back down to a lower court. In this case, to Facebook itself, and saying, you didn’t do this correctly, and it’s your problem to figure out how to do it correctly.” (The entire episode is worth a listen.) 

The Verdict

The advisory board gave Facebook six months to make its final decision on Trump.