Facebook’s Oversight Board has over 9,000 responses in the case related to Donald Trump’s suspension from the platform⁠— a decision is coming soon

Facebook’s Oversight Board has over 9,000 responses in the case related to Donald Trump’s suspension from the platform⁠— a decision is coming soon
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  • The decision will set a precedent for how Facebook handles posts and propaganda by other world leaders around the world.
  • In India, too, this will be watched closely by both the ruling administration under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as well as by his detractors.
  • It may also have a bearing on how these platforms are regulated in each country in the future.
Former American President Donald Trump was ousted from Facebook and Instagram on January 6 following the violent attack on Capitol Hill.

The move to block Trump from reaching out to his millions of followers had unsettled many around the world, not just the Republicans in the US, who saw it as a threat to free speech

While Twitter stuck to its guns, and banned Trump permanently, Facebook said its recently-formed Oversight Board ⁠— an eminent group of lawyers, academics, journalists, and world leaders ⁠— would decide on Trump’s future on social media.

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The decision will set a precedent for how Facebook handles posts and propaganda by other world leaders around the world. “The Board will announce its decision on the case concerning former US President Trump's indefinite suspension from Facebook and Instagram in the coming weeks,” the committee said in a statement, which also mentioned that it had received 9,000 responses so far.

“The Board’s commitment to carefully reviewing all comments has extended the case timeline, in line with the Board’s bylaws. We will share more information soon,” it added.

Why it matters in India?

In India, too, this will be watched closely by both the ruling administration under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as well as by his detractors.
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Most recently, on April 16, The Guardian reported that Sophie Zhang, citing a 6,600-word memo from a former Facebook employee, that the social media giant allowed the misuse of its platform by political leaders from around the world, including those from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in India, to manipulate voters.

A similar controversy erupted in August last year, when Ankhi Das, the then public policy executive for Facebook in India, was accused by the Wall Street Journal of giving the Hindu nationalists in India a free ride with hate speech. Ankhi Das had to step down.

The current dispensation in India has been uncomfortable with the alleged liberal bias of the social media giants long before Trump was removed both from The White House as well as from these platforms. In May 2020, at the height of the violence following the murder of George Floyd, the 46-year old African American in Minnesota, Minneapolis, Twitter decided to remove some tweets from the US President “in public interest”.
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It caused some curious reactions even in India. “Twitter is no longer pretending to be a neutral platform… So, there is clearly need (sic) for regulating them. However, every curb brings its own wrinkles. Our own first amendment is a good example,” said Sanjeev Sanyal, India’s Principal Economic Advisor.

The final decision of the Oversight Board, comprising of members like the former Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt, former European Court of Human Rights judge András Sajó, Internet Sans Frontières Executive Director Julie Owono, Yemeni Nobel Peace Prize laureate Tawakkol Karman as well as Sudhir Krishnaswamy, a constitution expert from India, will be watched closely.

It may also have a bearing on how these platforms are regulated in each country in the future.
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