Facebook’s Trump Ban an Example of Uneven Standards, Republicans Tell Oversight Board

February 13, 2021 Updated: February 14, 2021

Republicans in Congress told Facebook’s oversight board that the social media company’s suspension of former President Donald Trump is an example of uneven deplatforming standards.

Top House GOP members, including Reps. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), told the board in a letter that they see violent speech published from all parts of the political spectrum on social media platforms, including Facebook, pointing to calls for the murder of police officers from the far-left Antifa network and a top Iranian official promising violence against the United States.

“The debate about how to effectively deal with these and other individuals is necessary and important,” the lawmakers wrote. “However, we remain concerned that the deplatforming standards are not applied in a fair and neutral manner.”

Republicans referred to a report compiled by a team led by former Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), about conservative concerns with Facebook, alleging the report “found numerous issues that resulted in a clear political bias against conservative viewpoints.” They also noted that Facebook limited a story about President Joe Biden’s son Hunter from being shared shortly before the 2020 election, claiming it contained disinformation, even though subsequent reporting confirmed many of the points presented.

That incident showed Facebook “had a clear preference for the Biden-Harris campaign,” the lawmakers said.

Leaked footage from a Facebook meeting held after Biden was sworn into office showed Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg praising some of the Democrat’s early executive orders.

“Instances where conservative viewpoints have been censored, blocked, or diminished harm the free exchange of ideas and irreparably damage conservative Americans’ faith in the fundamental fairness of purportedly neutral actors like Facebook,” the lawmakers wrote. “To effectively enforce content moderation rules in the public domain, Facebook must act in an impartial manner or risk delegitimizing its efforts to prevent violence and hate.”

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg
Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies at a Senate Judiciary and Commerce committees joint hearing in Washington on April 10, 2018. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)

Facebook suspended Trump in early January, while he was still in office. The company at the time said the suspension would last indefinitely. The company has since referred the decision to the oversight board, an independent entity, and has agreed to abide by the board’s decisions.

In its first set of rulings, the board overturned four Facebook actions and upheld one.

The oversight board, which includes lawyers, current and former journalists, rights advocates, and academics, announced in late January that it would accept comments regarding Trump’s suspension.

In its announcement, the board said Facebook raised two issues related to the case: “Considering Facebook’s values, specifically its commitment to ‘Voice’ and ‘Safety,’ did it correctly decide on January 7, 2021, to prohibit Donald J. Trump’s access to posting content on Facebook and Instagram for an indefinite amount of time? Facebook also requested the Board’s observations or recommendations on suspensions when the user is a political leader.”

The board plans to decide on Facebook’s suspension by April.

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