Facebook has asked an independent expert-led board it set up last year to make the final ruling on its ban of former US President Donald Trump. 

The Oversight Board was established to make decisions on speech and online safety on the platform and is mostly comprised of academics and civil society leaders. It is unclear when it will make a decision by.

Facebook indefinitely suspended Trump’s account on January 7 for comments he made regarding the storming of the US capitol by his supporters during the certification of the election results.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Trump crossed a line because he used the platform to “to incite violent insurrection against a democratically elected government”.

The initial ban was only confirmed to cover the period between the insurrection and current Presiden Joe Biden’s inauguration this week. How much longer it lasts will now be a matter for the Oversight Board.

Now boarding

The Oversight Board was established in 2020 to make binding decisions on “some of the most difficult questions around freedom of expression online”.

The board consists of 20 people, including legal experts and technology experts, as well as a  Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and a former Prime Minister of Denmark. 

Australian Nicolas Suzor is a board member. Suzor, a Professor at the School of Law at Queensland University of Technology, has studied the governance of the Internet and social networks, the regulation of automated systems, digital copyright and knowledge commons.

In a company blog post Friday Facebook VP of global affairs Nick Clegg said he hoped the board would uphold Facebook’s decision to ban Trump.

“We believe our decision was necessary and right,” he wrote. “Given its significance, we think it is important for the board to review it and reach an independent judgment on whether it should be upheld. While we await the board’s decision, Mr. Trump’s access will remain suspended indefinitely. We look forward to receiving the board’s decision — and we hope, given the clear justification for our actions on January 7, that it will uphold the choices we made.” 

Clegg said the board’s decision will be available at the board’s website when it is issued.

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