Likely Trump will continue to be banned from Facebook, but just in case, it is worth speculating what would happen if he returns. His general laying-low these days is probably in hopes of getting a reprieve.
Facebook’s oversight board will announce its ruling on whether former President Donald Trump’s account should be reinstated or remain suspended on Wednesday morning, the group said.
An imminent decision on a blockbuster case: The ruling, which Facebook has said will be binding, could usher in Trump’s return to the world’s biggest social network — or cut him off permanently from yet another major online platform. It will also mark the highest-profile test to date for the board, which has overturned a series of Facebook’s decisions, but not yet ruled on a case of this magnitude.
How we got here: The company suspended Trump from Facebook and its subsidiary Instagram on Jan. 7, one day after his supporters stormed the Capitol in an attack organized across numerous platforms. Facebook said at the time his account posed risk of inciting more violence.
Trump’s social media exile took hold later that month after Twitter permanently booted him from his signature platform and Google-owned YouTube suspended him indefinitely, effectively stripping him of his ability to engage directly with millions of followers online.
Status update: While Trump was banned for good from Twitter, Facebook and YouTube have left open the possibility of his return. Facebook on Jan. 21 referred Trump’s suspension to its oversight board, which then had 90 days to come to a decision on the case. YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki has said Trump’s account will be reinstated once the risk for violence subsides.
Zuckerberg first announced the idea in November 2018, and, after a period of public consultation, the board's 20 founding members were announced in May 2020. The board officially began its work on October 22, 2020, and issued its first five decisions on January 28, 2021, with four out of the five overturning Facebook's actions with respect to the matters appealed. It has been subject to substantial media speculation and coverage since its announcement, and has remained so following the referral of Facebook's decision to suspend Donald Trump after the 2021 storming of the U.S. Capitol.
On April 16, 2021, the board announced that it was delaying the decision on Facebook and Instagram's ban of Donald Trump to sometime “in the coming weeks” in order to review the more than 9,000 public comments it had received. Notably, on January 27, 2021, incoming board member Suzanne Nossel had published an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times titled “Banning Trump from Facebook may feel good. Here's why it might be wrong”, but a spokesperson announced that she would not participate in the deliberations over the Trump's case and would be spending the upcoming weeks in training. On the same day Nossel's appointment was announced, the board also announced a new case.
The 20 members of the Oversight Board were announced on May 6, 2020. The co-chairs, who selected the other members jointly with Facebook, are former U.S. federal circuit judge and religious freedom expert Michael McConnell, constitutional law expert Jamal Greene, Colombian attorney Catalina Botero-Marino and former Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt. Among the initial cohort are: former European Court of Human Rights judge András Sajó, Internet Sans Frontières Executive Director Julie Owono, Yemeni activist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Tawakkol Karman, former editor-in-chief of The Guardian Alan Rusbridger, Pakistani digital rights advocate Nighat Dad, and Ronaldo Lemos, lawyer that created the Brazilian Civil Rights Framework for the Internet law.
On April 20, 2021, it welcomed the newest board member, PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel, who was replacing Pamela Karlan, who had resigned in February 2021 to join the Biden administration. As of 2021, the United States has the most substantial representation with five members, including two of the four co-chairs of the board. Two board members come from South American countries, six come from countries all across Asia, three come from Africa including one with both African and European ties, who also counts towards three coming from Europe, and one comes from Australia.