Facebook oversight board upholds ban on Trump

Co-chair Helle Thorning-Schmidt explains the reasons behind their decision to keep the former president off the platform.
4:38 | 05/05/21

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Transcript for Facebook oversight board upholds ban on Trump
this morning, Facebook's oversight board announced they will uphold the platform's decision to suspend former president trump following his role in the January 6th insurrection. Here to discuss is one of the co-chairs of that oversight board, and the former prime minister of Denmark, helle thorning-schmidt, thank you for being with us, prime minister, and this is a newly formed oversight committee that was formed back in 2020 actually, as sort of a supreme court for free speech. So tell us how these deliberations take place and how you came to today's verdict? Yes, thank you for having me. Very excited to be here with you today. First of all, on the decision, we had decided that Facebook was right to take Mr. Trump off the platform on the 7th of January, but we've also been very firm with Facebook in telling them that it wasn't right to give an indefinite penalty. Facebook must follow its own rules. It's asking of everyone else to follow the rules. And it must also follow its own rules. And it's not in Facebook rules to give an indefinite penalty. So we've given Facebook six months to look at the permanent suspension, and also look at a time-bound suspension and then look whether they can take Mr. Trump back on the platform again. But you're still putting it in Facebook's hands. You all don't necessarily have a recommendation for what should happen, are we hearing you right? Well, we haven't given Facebook a recommendation on what penalty they should give. We've said that they were right to take Mr. Trump off the platforms. But we've also said that to give a penalty which is not in their own rules is not right. It is not transparent. It is not clear. And they must take this case back and look whether they're their user, in this case Mr. Trump, still poses any harm and then they must decide whether they want to take Mr. Trump permanently off the platform or suspend him in a definite period of time, which are the normal tools when they want to cite their users. And what we're basically saying, and I want to reiterate this, that this is a more a case about Facebook and how they treat their users than it is about trump, and what we're saying to Facebook is that they must treat their users according to their own rules, and they must treat their users equally. Now, the way this board works, I know you don't have to have a unanimous decision to reach a verdict, it just requires a simple majority, how close was this verdict? Well, it's hard to say, because it is 20 people, we discuss these cases, and we all have our own opinions, and none of the, all of the sentences, I wouldn't be able to sign all of the sentences, they are just what I wanted, but we found compromises on most of what is in our decisions, so there wasn't a majority decision where we had, it was a decision where we had a good majority of this decision and we all agreed that Facebook was right in excluding Mr. Trump on that day, the 7th of January, and then there was some minor disagreements along the way on this issue. But it is a board where every voice is heard and finally we reached a decision and this is our decision we had today. And this has to do with former president trump, but you said this is not necessarily just about him, so in your opinion, should there be, I don't want to say a different rule but are you suggesting that Facebook handle public figures, celebrities, world leaders, any differently than the average Joe? The interesting thing about this case is that we actually asked Facebook whether they had applied for so-called news worthiness criteria into this case. And they said that they have not. So they have actually not treated Mr. Trump differently than any other user. But when they gave the sanction, they suddenly started doing that. And what we are saying to Facebook is, it was fine, they took the right decision on the 7th of January. But from now on, they have to go back and put a sanction to Mr. Trump which is of course where they assess the harm that Mr. Trump might cause on Facebook and Instagram but where they also give a penalty, and a sanction, which is in line with their own rules. All right, we will hear more about this and it's a fascinating read. We've been reading the decision this morning. Thank you for spending time with us, Facebook oversight board co-chair helle thorning-schmidt, thank you so much for being here.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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