Five questions raised by Facebook’s two-year ban on Donald Trump


MIT Technology Review

Facebook officially introduced this policy in late 2016 after an iconic photo from the Vietnam War was censored for containing nudity. However, the newsworthiness exception became a blanket exception for politicians, including Trump, allowing illegal content to be kept online because it was viewed by default in the public interest. But while this announcement seems to end that blanket protection, it doesn’t completely remove it, and it doesn’t go into any further detail on how Facebook determines whether something falls under the exception.

Who made that decision?

The announcement was written by Nick Clegg, the company’s vice president for global affairs, but refers to “us” throughout. However, it does not disclose who was involved in the decision-making process at Facebook – which is important for transparency and credibility given the controversial nature of the decision.

“We know today’s decision will be criticized by many people on opposite sides of the political divide – but our job is to make a decision as proportionate, fair and transparent as possible,” wrote Clegg.

Where does Facebook get advice?

The announcement also states that the company will turn to “experts” to “assess whether the risk to public safety has decreased” without specifying which experts they will be, what expertise they will bring, or how Facebook (or anyone on Facebook) have decision-making powers based on their findings. The supervisory body, which was partly intended to outsource controversial decisions, has already signaled that it does not want to play this role.

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