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Facebook panel upholds suspension of Trump’s account

Trump’s social media accounts have been suspended since January

trump file File photo of former US president Donald Trump at a World Series baseball game in 2019 | AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File

Facebook’s oversight board, on Wednesday, said that it would uphold the suspension of former president Donald Trump’s account. Trump, whose accounts across social media platforms were suspended in January, had said it was a total disgrace and the companies would “pay a political price”.

The board also said the company was wrong to make an indefinite suspension and gave it six months to determine a ‘proportionate response’.

The board’s verdict has been much-anticipated as it would be an indication of how the world's largest social media company will treat rule-breaking political leaders in the future. Trump’s account was suspended after his supporters stomped the Capitol after Trump, on social media, urged them to ‘fight like hell’ to overturn the November 2020 election results.

Trump’s Instagram account was blocked as well. Trump, on Wednesday, launched his Twitter-like online platform. YouTube, which had also suspended the former president’s account, said it would lift the ban once the threat of "real-world violence" reduces.

Co-chair of the oversight board Helle Thorning-Schmidt admitted to BBC, “We did not have an easy answer... We are telling Facebook to go back and be more transparent about how it assesses these things. Treat all users the same and don't give arbitrary penalties,” she added. Facebook responded to the board's comments and said it would "consider the board's decision and determine an action that is clear and proportionate".

Facebook's business thrived during the controversy; advertising on the platform boomed as the US began lifting COVID-19-related restrictions.

Nick Clegg, Facebook's vice president of global affairs and communication, said the company hoped to resolve the matter “considerably faster” than six months.

The board made further recommendations on how Facebook should improve its policies regarding censorship.

At the time of the suspension, Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg said “the risks of allowing the president to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great.”

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