- The Washington Times - Friday, April 16, 2021

Facebook’s Oversight Board has extended its timeline for deciding whether to keep or reverse the ban against former President Donald Trump.

The board has responsibility for content enforcement and governance on Facebook platforms and said on Twitter that it would make its decision about Mr. Trump’s indefinite suspension in the “coming weeks.”

“The Board’s commitment to carefully review all comments has extended the case timeline, in line with the board’s bylaws,” the board said on Twitter. “We will share more information soon.”

The board said it also extended the deadline for public comments on its case and got more than 9,000 responses, and Mr. Trump is among those who have pushed for his reinstatement. 

The adjudication of Mr. Trump’s case is the first major test of the oversight board’s independence and power to make binding decisions at Facebook. While technically independent from the company, the board operates with a $130 million trust from Facebook. 

When Facebook announced that it had referred its decision to ban Mr. Trump to the board, Facebook vice president Nick Clegg said on Twitter that the company’s executives “hope & expect” the board would confirm the ban. 

Several factors beyond the number of comments on Mr. Trump’s case are weighing on the board as it decides what to do about the ban. Among those considerations are how the board can best ensure Facebook will follow its determination, how to explain its decision to the public, and how to weigh other companies’ bans of Mr. Trump

To assist the board in getting Facebook to follow all of its orders, the board is looking to hire a “case decisions implementation and monitoring officer” whose job involves tracking whether Facebook follows through as intended, according to a job listing by the board. 

In explaining its decision to the public, Facebook will look to avoid the appearance of political bias. The decision of a board member to quit and then join the Biden administration is not helpful for that effort. 

Pamela Karlan, a Stanford University law professor who testified before Congress in support of the first impeachment charges against Mr. Trump, recently left the board to work in President Biden’s Department of Justice. 

Facebook is not the only company wrestling with whether or how to remove its ban of Mr. Trump. YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki said at an Atlantic Council event last month that her platform would lift its suspension of Mr. Trump when it determined the risk of violence had decreased. 

If large tech companies like Facebook and Google-owned YouTube maintain their banishments, Mr. Trump will likely continue to look for other digital platforms to disseminate his message. Jason Miller, a 2020 Trump campaign senior adviser, said in March that Mr. Trump would return in a few months on his own platform. 

MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, a supporter of Mr. Trump, has said he will launch “Frank,” a social media platform that he has described as a “YouTube-Twitter combination,” next week.

Other digital options for Mr. Trump include Telegram, the cloud-based messaging service that Project Veritas president James O’Keefe used to communicate with the public after he was permanently suspended from Twitter on Thursday.  

• Ryan Lovelace can be reached at rlovelace@washingtontimes.com.

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