TechTank: The Facebook Oversight Board’s Decision on Banning Trump

Darrell West
Monday, May 17, 2021, 3:29 PM

Published by The Lawfare Institute
in Cooperation With

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

On Jan. 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 Institutionabout the appropriateness of the Facebook Oversight Board’s decision on Trump and the governance model represented by the board itself.

You can listen to the episode and subscribe to the TechTank podcast on AppleSpotify, or Acast.

Darrell M. West is vice president and director of Governance Studies and holds the Douglas Dillon Chair. He is Co-Editor-in-Chief of TechTank. His current research focuses on artificial intelligence, robotics, and the future of work. West is also director of the John Hazen White Manufacturing Initiative.

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