TechTank: The Facebook Oversight Board’s Decision on Banning Trump

By Darrell West
Monday, May 17, 2021, 3:29 PM

Should a powerful technology company such as Facebook have the power to ban public officials from its platform?

On Jan. 7, the day after a mob stormed the U.S. Capitol building, Facebook temporarily banned then-President Donald Trump on the grounds that he had used a video and online statement to incite violence. Since then, the company referred the Trump case to an oversight board composed of 20 independent experts to determine whether to make the ban permanent and to provide guidance for other world leaders.

Last week, the Facebook Oversight Board reached its decision and affirmed the initial ban—but turned the issue of a permanent ban back to Facebook, with a request the company issue a decision on Trump within the next six months. The case raises important questions regarding the actual decision itself as well as the governance model of having a board of experts make decisions about platform access for national political leaders.

In this episode, host Darrell West speaks with Quinta Jurecic, Senior Editor at Lawfare and a Fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institutionabout the appropriateness of the Facebook Oversight Board’s decision on Trump and the governance model represented by the board itself.

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