Just in Time for Trump ’24: Arbitrary Ruling Shows Facebook Has No Plan

Announcement Raises More Questions than Answers About Facebook’s Chaotic Approach — What About Bannon? Bolsonaro? Will Facebook Examine Its Role in the January 6th Insurrection?

JUNE 4: Today’s decision is yet another example of Facebook’s use of ‘accountability theater’. It set up the Oversight Board to offshore its most difficult decisions and today it has used it to cloak another shrouded arbitrary decision in an air of accountability. It is not.

While many people will breathe a sigh of relief today that Facebook has banned Donald Trump for a further two years, this decision only goes to underline the enormous, unchecked power of Facebook and its repeated failure to police its platform. Donald Trump and his allies used Facebook to incite an insurrection and attempted coup of the United States Government. The punishment: Back on Facebook just in time for Trump 2024, with no explanation at all why a two-year ban, or what the criteria are for determining his status when the ban expires.

Nick Clegg invoked the Oversight Board in his explanation claiming ‘Facebook shouldn’t be making so many decisions about content by ourselves, but of course it is doing exactly that. Instead of transparency about how it came to this decision, this simply raises a host of other questions in particular with regard to other world leaders and politicians who have abused the platform but against whom Facebook has taken no action:

  • Why Trump, and not Bolsonaro, Duterte, and other world leaders who have similarly abused the platform and violated Facebook terms of service?
  • What about Steve Bannon and other users still spreading the big lie on the platform?
  • What are the criteria that will be applied in two years? Is there a right to appeal?
  • Will Facebook be formally examining its role on January 6th?
  • Since inciting an insurrection that leads to actual loss of life doesn’t get you banned, will Facebook be reversing all previous bans that are at or below this threshold?”
  • What does it take to get banned from Facebook?

This is more evidence that we need actual independent oversight where the terms are enforceably set for Facebook, not just optional recommendations from a body they created and fund.

Facebook’s accountability theater show goes on.

Real Facebook Oversight Board members are available for interviews and further comment.

An emergency response to the ongoing harms on Facebook’s platforms from leading global scholars, experts and advocates.