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Donald Trump, the key test for the supreme court of Facebook


Own platform after social media exclusion 

The blogging section 'From the Desk of Donald J. Trump' launched on Tuesday is reminiscent of Twitter.

Except that only Trump's messages are featured.

Visitors can share his posts, photos, and videos on Twitter or Facebook, but not post a reaction or participate in a debate.

After the Capitol invasion last January, Trump was banned from Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, among other places., because he had stimulated his followers there.

Donald Trump, the key test for the supreme court of Facebook

Independent Facebook oversight body, the Oversight Board. - will decide this Wednesday at 6 p.m. (Belgian), whether Trump's Facebook ban is still in effect.

As for the Twitter ban, it is permanent, as the company had previously made known.

YouTube, for its part, will agree to unblock Trump's profile when 'the risk of violence has decreased'.

Facebook oversight decision

Facebook's supervisory board is set to decide Wednesday whether former U.S. President Donald Trump can return to the social network.

He was banned after the assault on the Capitol by his supporters in January.

The decision of this "supreme court" is crucial.

It is to know if this mechanism invented to decide the most difficult questions of moderation can hold the road.

Americans may wake up on Wednesday, May 5, to discover a returnee on their favorite social network.

Facebook's supervisory board is due to announce at 9 a.m.

Whether Donald Trump can once again express himself on the platform with nearly three billion users worldwide.

The case of the former U.S. president represents a key test for this young structure, dubbed the "supreme court" of Facebook.

It was established by Mark Zuckerberg in October 2020 to deal with the thorniest and the most controversial moderation cases.

A "council of elders" to respond to criticism

Indeed, it is difficult to venture on a more slippery path than that of the fate reserved by social networks to Donald Trump…

 After the assault led by his supporters against the Capitol in Washington on January 6.

Facebook decided to ban him indefinitely for having published a video in which he called on the attackers “to go home”.

 While adding that he "loved them very much", had earned the social network criticism from all sides.

For some, Facebook had reacted late, letting the leader distill his hateful messages for far too long.

While others felt that censoring a head of state, however controversial, set a dangerous precedent.

Mark Zuckerberg acknowledged that he expected to see the sanction against Donald Trump challenged.

"Many people have said that a private company should not make this kind of decision on its own.

We agree," the Facebook CEO had said.

That's why the group took the matter to its "supreme court." After all, isn't that what this structure was created for?

The genesis of the Facebook Supervisory Board dates back to 2018.

The social network was then criticized from all sides.

 It was mired in the Cambridge Analytica scandal - which had to do with a huge leak of personal data used for political propaganda –

 While the memory of the Russian campaign on Facebook to influence the 2016 US presidential election remained vivid.

The concept of an independent "council of elders" that would act as a sort of quasi-court was then suggested to Mark Zuckerberg by Noah Feldman.

Noah is a law professor at Harvard University, knowing for having helped write the new Iraqi Constitution.


The Facebook boss jumped at the idea.

 "He felt like he couldn't deal with product development anymore and had to spend all his energy dealing with policy issues.

"Says Kate Klonick; a legal scholar at Saint John's University.

An Oversight Board would take some of the burdens off him.

After months of consultations around the world, Facebook managed to gather a committee of twenty experts from different countries and from the academic world.

 These "judges" are, of course, not unanimous in the United States. Conservatives denounce a panel that is "too left-wing".

 Donald Trump even called Mark Zuckerberg personally complains about the appointment of Pamela Karlan.

Pamela Karlan is a lawyer who had testified against him in the first impeachment trial.

The Democrats also have complaints, especially about the presence of a former judge.

 Who had defended in 2000 the right of the Boy Scouts to exclude homosexuals from their ranks?

Decisions that are binding on Facebook

Mark Zuckerberg stands firm.

The Supervisory Board can be seized by Facebook or users who feel aggrieved.

In the latter case, it is the experts who decide whether the grievance is legitimate and worth investigating.

For each case, Facebook then appoints five committee members who will be responsible for deciding the case.

Their names are kept secret "to avoid any lobbying", explains the Washington Post.

 They then have 90 days to come to a conclusion.

 Which is submitted to the rest of the members of the Supervisory Board and who can only oppose it by a majority vote.

A decision that goes beyond Donald Trump

The experts of the Supervisory Board are aware that they have no room for error in this matter.

They were supposed to render their decision at the end of March.

But asked for and obtained an extension because of the "very sensitive" nature of this issue.

They know that this decision, which is eagerly awaited.

It will be an opportunity for them to respond to the main criticism leveled at them: that of independence.

"They are all recognized experts in their field, but they are linked to Facebook and, as such.

There will always be doubts about the transparency of their decision," explains Eliska Pirkova.

The Trump case will have to allow them - or not…

To prove that they are legitimate to be the supreme judges of what can or cannot be said on the most powerful social network.

Facebook loses no matter what the decision

But on the other hand, if they let him back in. "that leaves him free to use Facebook to continue destabilizing American democracy.

Other leaders with populist tendencies could jump into the breach and consider that they now also have the right to use this platform.

They will use this platform to "spread hateful content".

So there is no good end to this story for Mark Zuckerberg, notes Martin Moore. "

Facebook loses in both cases, because whatever the decision of the Supervisory Board will only underline that this social network has too much influence.

Namely, an influence on the public debate on an international scale…

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