Facebook Inc said on Thursday that it is submitting its decision to suspend the account of former US President Donald Trump indefinitely to its independent oversight committee.
The recently established board of directors can overturn the company’s decision on content, and Trump will review that decision.
Facebook blocked Trump’s access to his Facebook and Instagram accounts over concerns of further violent unrest following the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol by the former president’s supporters.
“I’m very confident of our case,” Facebook’s head of global affairs, Nick Clegg, told Reuters. “I’m very confident that any reasonable person looking at the circumstances in which we took that decision and looking at our existing policies will agree.”
“But of course this is a decision which has had reverberations around the world,” he added. It is the first time the company has blocked a current president, prime minister or head of state.
Facebook did not ask for an expedited review so the board, which said on Thursday it had accepted the case, will have a maximum of 90 days to make a ruling and for Facebook to act on it. An Oversight Board spokesman said it would likely be sooner than that.
The administrator of Trump’s Facebook page can choose to submit a written statement to challenge Facebook’s decision.
Facebook also asked the board to provide advice on when or should block political leaders. Facebook does not have to act on the recommendation, which is different from the binding case decision of the board of directors.
The oversight committee currently consists of 20 members and was created by Facebook in response to criticism of its handling of problematic content.
“That’s why we’re here, to not leave these decisions to the leadership of Facebook but actually use the Oversight Board to look at this in a principled way,” said Helle Thorning-Schmidt, a board co-chair and the former Danish prime minister.
The board, which has been criticized for its delayed start and limited remit, has not yet ruled on its first batch of cases.
Facebook said that after the suspension of Trump’s ban, the blockade will last at least until the expiration of Trump’s presidency, and may even last indefinitely. When Joe Biden was sworn in as president, Trump’s term expired on Wednesday.
Twitter Inc has permanently suspended Trump.