The decision will instead be made by the Facebook Oversight Board, an independent body often described as a kind of Supreme Court for Facebook. The board’s decision will be announced Wednesday.
If the idea of a Supreme Court for a social network leaves you with a lot of questions, well, you’re not the only one. Below, some frequent questions and answers about the board to help you get up to speed.
The board is an independent, court-like entity for appealing content decisions on Facebook-owned platforms. It’s made up of 20 experts in areas like free expression, human rights, and journalism.
Content moderation decisions — for instance, removing or not removing a particular post — made by Facebook and Instagram can be appealed to the board once users have gone all the way through the company’s internal review process. Facebook says that decisions made by the board are final.
Who is on the board?
But the board is just going to do whatever Facebook wants, right?
Suzanne Nossel, a Facebook Oversight Board member and CEO of the free expression organization PEN America, told CNN Business last week, “Obviously, Facebook has its own motives in this. Let’s be clear. They’re a profit-making enterprise. They wouldn’t have done this if they didn’t think it was good for business. They have taken some steps in putting money in a trust and creating an independent set of trustees that oversee the board itself. And so there are some efforts to make it genuinely independent.”
“Whether those go far enough, whether circumstances arise that test or challenge those parameters, we’ll have to see, but I think it’s crucial, if the board is going to play any kind of useful role, that that independence be absolutely respected,” she added.
Some — perhaps many — decisions the board makes may ultimately not be what Facebook would want, or might put the company in some uncomfortable positions. But however the board rules, Facebook does get the benefit of some cover on the most difficult content questions.
Does Facebook have to do what the board says?
Remind me, what happened to Trump’s Facebook account?
What happens after the board makes a decision on Trump’s Facebook account?
The board’s decision will be announced at 9 a.m. ET on Wednesday. The board’s decision on whether Trump should be allowed back on the platform is supposed to be binding, meaning Facebook is supposed to take the action.
The board will publish its decision on its website along with an explanation of how it reached the decision. It will not, however, make public who on the board voted which way; the board members are not supposed to reveal that information themselves either.
What cases has the board taken on before this?
In its first set of rulings in January, the board overturned some decisions Facebook had made.
Facebook removed the post due to its hate speech policies. The board overturned that decision.
In an explanation of the decision posted to its website, the board said, “[W]hile the post might be considered pejorative or offensive towards Muslims, it did not advocate hatred or intentionally incite any form of imminent harm. As such, the Board does not consider its removal to be necessary to protect the rights of others.”
— Brian Fung and Kaya Yurieff contributed reporting.