The ‘indefinite’ ban of former US President Donald Trump on Facebook and Instagram is being appealed at the highest level.
Some media reports have suggested Trump himself has appealed his exclusion to Facebook’s Oversight Board, to restore access to his 35 million followers.
Former Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt, who is a co-chair of Facebook’s Oversight Committee, for example told Channel Four News they are reviewing Trump’s case. The news outlet reported that Trump had made a direct appeal to the Oversight Board to have his ban overturned.
However other media reports have said an unnamed ‘user’ had submitted the appeal.
The Facebook Oversight Board issued the following statement to various media outlets.
“We can confirm that a user statement has been received in the case before the Oversight Board concerning President Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts,” a spokesperson for the Oversight Board said in a statement.
The spokesperson declined further comment.
The Oversight Board has reportedly received about 9,000 comments from the public on the hotly contested question of whether to allow Trump access to his Facebook and Instagram accounts.
The board has 90 days to make a ruling on the case.
Donald Trump was widely condemned for his role in inciting a mob of his supporters to storm the US Capitol building on Wednesday 6 January, which resulted in the deaths of five people (including one police officer who was beaten to death).
Facebook immediately banned Trump for 24 hours, but as the full scale of the attempted insurrection became clear, it then announced it had suspended his accounts indefinitely.
“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.”
YouTube and Twitter also initially banned him for a limited period of time, but Twitter then also banned Trump permanently.
YouTube has also suspended Trump’s account indefinitely.
On 21 January Facebook referred its decision to indefinitely suspend Trump’s accounts to its independent oversight board.
Facebook VP of global affairs Nick Clegg defended the decision to remove Trump.
“We believe our decision was necessary and right,” he wrote in January. “Our decision to suspend then-President Trump’s access was taken in extraordinary circumstances: a US president actively fomenting a violent insurrection designed to thwart the peaceful transition of power; five people killed; legislators fleeing the seat of democracy.”
The Oversight Board has been gathering feedback in the meantime.
“We recognise the level of interest in our case regarding former US President Trump,” the Oversight board wrote in a series of tweets on 29 January. “We encourage people and organisations to share their insights through our public comments process.”
Thousands of responses poured in ahead of the deadline – the most the board has received for any case thus far.