The Facebook Oversight Board’s decision on banning Trump | The TechTank Podcast

U.S. President Donald Trump gestures as he speaks during a rally to contest the certification of the 2020 U.S. presidential election results by the U.S. Congress, in Washington, U.S, January 6, 2021. REUTERS/Jim Bourg

Should a powerful technology company such as Facebook have the power to ban public officials from its platform?

On January 7, the day after a mob stormed the U.S. Capitol building, Facebook temporarily banned then President Donald Trump on the grounds that he had used a video and online statement to incite violence. Since then, the company referred the Trump case to an oversight board composed of 20 independent experts to determine whether to make the ban permanent and to provide guidance for other world leaders.

Last week, the Facebook Oversight Board reached its decision and affirmed the initial ban—but turned the issue of a permanent ban back to Facebook, with a request the company issue a decision on Trump within the next six months. The case raises important questions regarding the actual decision itself as well as the governance model of having a board of experts make decisions about platform access for national political leaders.

In this episode, host Darrell West speaks with Quinta Jurecic, Senior Editor at Lawfare and a Fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution, about the appropriateness of the Facebook Oversight Board’s decision on Trump and the governance model represented by the board itself.

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Facebook is a general, unrestricted donor to the Brookings Institution. The findings, interpretations and conclusions in this piece are solely those of the authors and not influenced by any donation.

TechTank is a biweekly podcast from The Brookings Institution exploring the most consequential technology issues of our time. From artificial intelligence and racial bias in algorithms, to Big Tech, the future of work, and the digital divide, TechTank takes abstract ideas and makes them accessible. Moderators Dr. Nicol Turner Lee and Darrell West speak with leading technology experts and policymakers to share new data, ideas, and policy solutions to address the challenges of our new digital world.