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Facebook ruling on Trump’s ‘indefinite suspension’ due on Wednesday

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Donald Trump has been blocked from Facebook and Instagram indefinitely. (Photo by Getty)

The oversight board of popular microblogging site Facebook is set to announce its much-anticipated ruling on the fate of former US President Donald Trump's Facebook account on Wednesday.

In a statement on Monday, the board said it had received over 9,000 public responses last month pertaining to Trump's indefinite suspension from Facebook and its sister-concern site Instagram.

Pertinently, the former US President, who gained notoriety for using social media platforms to whip up political violence and indulge in brazen racist rhetoric, became the first American leader to have his social media handles banned earlier this year.

The microblogging site with headquarters in the US suspended Trump's account following the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol, which left at least five people dead, including a Capitol police officer.

Twitter and YouTube followed the suit, citing further risk of violence and incitement by the Republican president.

The unprecedented decision was later referred to the Facebook Oversight Board, an independent body vested with power to reverse Facebook content decisions and set precedent for the company.

“We believe the risks of allowing the President to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said at the time. "Therefore, we are extending the block we have placed on his Facebook and Instagram accounts indefinitely and for at least the next two weeks until the peaceful transition of power is complete".

Facebook also warned its employees to avoid wearing or carrying company-branded clothing and other items in public following the company’s suspension of Trump's social media account.

The decision by the Facebook Oversight Board was originally due by 21 April, however the board delayed it by few weeks in order to review over 9,000 public responses to cases, according to reports.

The ruling is billed to be the biggest decision the board, referred to as ‘Facebook's Supreme Court’, has taken since its inception last year.

The 20-member board, made up of journalists, human rights activists, lawyers and academics, was set up to rule on difficult or controversial moderation decisions made by Facebook.

Meanwhile, the suspension is not limited to Trump’s account. Last month Facebook extended the ban to include the “voice of Trump” after his daughter-in-law and Fox News contributor Laura Trump posted a video of her interviewing the former president.

In March, Facebook also announced that it was removing some ads by Trump's re-election campaign promoting “the Official 2020 Congressional District Census”.

The ads, which asked users to fill out an "Official 2020 Congressional District Census," came from the pages of Trump and his deputy Mike Pence, linking to a survey on an official campaign website and then to a page that asked for donations.

While his Facebook ban still hangs in balance, Trump’s suspension on YouTube, according to chief executive Susan Wojcicki, may be lifted when the threat of "real-world violence" decreases.

He is, however, permanently banned on another popular microblogging site Twitter, which he used regularly for push his hate-driven rhetoric.

Trump adviser Jason Miller had told Fox News in March that he expects the former US president to come out of his social media hibernation with his "own platform".


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