A semi-independent review board has upheld United States President Donald Trump’s suspension from Facebook for inciting violence in the wake of the 2020 election, while also criticising the social media giant’s handling of the situation.
The board was launched last October amid an ongoing debate over the company’s ability to manage hate speech and misinformation on the platform, which critics say have played a role in violence, human rights violations and even genocide across the world. Facebook has about 1.7 billion users globally.
The decision on Wednesday, which gives Facebook six months to review the Trump suspension, also calls on the company to “address widespread confusion about how decisions relating to influential users are made”.
Here are the other recommendations made in the decision:
- “Rapidly escalate content containing political speech from highly influential users to specialized staff who are familiar with the linguistic and political context. These staff should be insulated from political and economic interference, as well as undue influence.
- Dedicate adequate resourcing and expertise to assess risks of harm from influential accounts globally.
- Produce more information to help users understand and evaluate the process and criteria for applying the newsworthiness allowance, including how it applies to influential accounts. The company should also clearly explain the rationale, standards and processes of the cross check review, and report on the relative error rates of determinations made through cross check compared with ordinary enforcement procedures.
- Undertake a comprehensive review of Facebook’s potential contribution to the narrative of electoral fraud and the exacerbated tensions that culminated in the violence in the United States on January 6. This should be an open reflection on the design and policy choices that Facebook has made that may allow its platform to be abused.
- Make clear in its corporate human rights policy how it collects, preserves and, where appropriate, shares information to assist in investigation and potential prosecution of grave violations of international criminal, human rights and humanitarian law.
- Explain its strikes and penalties process for restricting profiles, pages, groups and accounts in Facebook’s Community Standards and Instagram’s Community Guidelines.
- Include the number of profile, page, and account restrictions in its transparency reporting, with information broken down by region and country.
- Provide users with accessible information on how many violations, strikes and penalties have been assessed against them, and the consequences that will follow future violations.
- Develop and publish a policy that governs Facebook’s response to crises or novel situations where its regular processes would not prevent or avoid imminent harm. This guidance should set appropriate parameters for such actions, including a requirement to review its decision within a fixed time.”