Facebook oversight board's newest member voiced skepticism about Trump ban

Nossel, a veteran of the Obama administration, argued the board needed to consider whether Facebook’s decision to curtail Trump was clearly based on specific violations of its policies and in line with the company’s other enforcement actions against the former U.S. president and others leading figures in the world here.

That could be difficult to prove, she argued, as Facebook “did not cite a specific post against rule violations” when it announced Trump’s suspension following the January 6 attack on the Capitol. Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg said at the time that the risk of allowing Trump to stay on site after the violence in Washington was “just too big”.

Nossel also suggested that Facebook had ulterior motives, both politically and financially, for booting Trump.

“The Facebook Oversight Board’s decision on the Trump case … will show whether something other than the impulse to appease disgruntled users and smear a new administration can justify this expulsion,” she wrote in the article with the Headline: “Banning Trump from Facebook can feel good. Here’s why it could be wrong.”

Human rights lawyers and other free speech experts pursuing the case told POLITICO that the board of directors may be able to reinstate Trump if Facebook cannot prove that Trump received due process under its rules. The case has generated a great deal of public interest and the Chamber received a record number of submissions for comment on the case.

A notable number in free speech debates: Nossel has run PEN America, a nonprofit that says it works to “protect freedom of expression in the United States and worldwide”. since 2013.

She was Chief Operating Officer of Human Rights Watch and Executive Director of Amnesty International, two NGOs that also work on human rights and freedom of expression issues. She was Deputy Secretary of State for international organizations in the Obama administration.

Nessel fills a vacancy with Pamela Karlan, a Stanford law professor and renowned vocal law scholar who stepped down from the board in February to join the civil rights division of the Biden Justice Department. Karlan drew national attention for testifying in a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Trump’s impeachment in 2019.

The New Yorker reported in February this Trump had pressured Zuckerberg to drop Karlan off the board.

The announcement brings the board back to its original full occupation of 20 members, five from the United States.

Where the Trump case stands: On Monday, the board announced it would postpone the decision to suspend Trump indefinitely from the platform, a case that has been under discussion since January.

Facebook referred the case to the board after the January 6 attack, which has the power to override its substantive decisions.

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