Facebook panel member on Trump ban ruling -- and what happens next

San Francisco (AFP) –


Facebook's independent oversight board said its decision to uphold the platform's ban on Donald Trump was based on global human rights principles and considerations of imminent harm and violence.

Lawyer and digital rights advocate Julie Owono, who heads Paris-based Internet Sans Frontieres, answers AFP's questions on the decision by the 20-member panel to affirm the ban while ordering Facebook to conduct a more thorough review.

- Was Facebook right to oust Trump? -

Owono: "Yes, given the exceptional nature of events that happened on January 6, the company was right to take action.

"So, in that regard, the board's decision is extremely clear and telling Facebook -- you should apply your rules, and the penalties that are provided in case of community standards violation, especially given the gravity and the severity of the violation that happened.

"We couldn't endorse an indefinite suspension that is completely arbitrary and it wouldn't have been compliant with not only the standards of the company but also with international human rights principles and standards."

- What happens now? -

Owono: "The decision says Facebook has six months to reassess the case. Theoretically, should Facebook decide to allow Trump back tomorrow, nothing prevents it.

"The board has specifically insisted that the company make some changes to its policies and include more clarity with regard to how it applies its policies in times of crisis and whether or not it should reinstate (Trump), extend the penalty or even conclude that a permanent deletion of the account of the pages should be applied here.

"The board has specifically insisted that... the company should assess what are the potential of future harms (from reinstating the Trump account)."

- What about Facebook's legal obligations? -

Owono: "Facebook is not bound from a legal perspective, of course, by many of the declarations and conventions that exist for human rights, but it has committed itself to do so, voluntarily, and it has asked the board to evaluate its decisions, not only based on its own rules, its community standards and values but also, and I would say most importantly, based on international human rights principles and standards."