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In 2020 and earlier, Donald Trump was the king of social media, using it to spread lies and attack enemies. For years, companies like Facebook and Twitter let him do it. But after a pro-Trump mob attacked the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6, social media slammed the door on the U.S. president.
Twitter banned Trump permanently, but Facebook only banned him until its Oversight Board could make a final decision on how long the ban would last.
The Oversight Board is made up of 20 experts, including lawyers and rights activists. Facebook helped choose the members, but the board is independent from the company.
The board began working shortly before the November presidential election and has only made a handful of decisions. The Trump ban, announced May 5, was the most important one and so was closely watched.
There were good arguments for making the ban permanent: Trump broke Facebook’s terms of service — its rules for using the site. There were also arguments for ending the ban: People, especially world leaders, should have a right to free speech.
But on May 5, almost four months after the original ban, the Oversight Board split the difference: It said it agreed with the original ban but insisted that Facebook make a final decision in six months.
Some critics say the board is just kicking the can down the road, but if you read the decision, it makes sense.
The board dinged Facebook for having rules that were too “vague” and for not being clear about why it banned Trump. In a key phrase, the board says Facebook “seeks to avoid its responsibilities.” There’s a lesson here for social media companies: You can’t let other people take the blame for hard decisions. (T)
This article was provided by The Japan Times Alpha.