Facebook’s oversight board on Wednesday upheld the company’s decision to suspend former President Donald Trump’s account following the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
However, the board found it was “not appropriate” for Facebook to impose an indefinite suspension and asked the company to review the decision within the next six months.
Facebook originally moved against Trump’s account as the attack on the Capitol was unfolding.
Earlier that day, Trump and his associates helped galvanize his supporters during a rally in which he repeatedly lied about the outcome of the 2020 election, and called on former Vice President Mike Pence not to certify the election results.
Later, as his supporters were attacking police and vandalizing lawmakers’ offices, Trump posted a video to his Facebook page telling the rioters to go home, while simultaneously continuing to spread lies about the 2020 election. He also told supporters “we love you, you’re very special.”
After posting the video, Trump again posted to his account, telling his followers to “remember this day forever.”
Facebook took down the video an hour after it was posted, citing an “emergency situation.”
The next day, on Jan. 7, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that allowing Trump to continue to use the platform to condone the actions of his supporters at the Capitol was too dangerous and suspended the then-president indefinitely.
Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates, meanwhile, told Yahoo Finance that a permanent ban would be an “extreme measure” and “a shame.”
In a March survey of 11,698 Yahoo Finance readers, 77% of self-identified Republicans said Trump should be allowed back on the platform, while 75% of Democrats called for suspension to stand.
Facebook and fellow social media company Twitter (TWTR), which permanently banned Trump on Jan. 8, have received considerable blowback from their treatment of the former president.
Republicans in Congress have pounded on the issue as another example of what they describe as a conservative bias, though no evidence of such a coordinated effort has ever been brought forward.
The ruling by Facebook’s oversight board is considered final with even Zuckerberg unable to overrule the group’s decision.
Made up of an international team of experts including lawyers, journalists, Nobel laureates, and former political leaders, the oversight board’s independence has been criticized because each member receives a salary from an independent trust funded by Facebook to the tune of $130 million, according to the New Yorker.