Reactions to Facebook oversight board upholding Trump's suspension


FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump is seen tapping the screen on a mobile phone during a roundtable discussion on the reopening of small businesses in the State Dining Room at the White House in Washington, U.S., June 18, 2020. REUTERS/Leah Millis

(Reuters) - Facebook Inc's oversight board on Wednesday upheld the company's suspension of former U.S. President Donald Trump but said the company was wrong to make the suspension "indefinite" and asked it to re-assess the penalty.

Following are comments from Facebook, the board, politicians, civil rights leaders and experts:

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT

"What Facebook, Twitter, and Google have done is a total disgrace and an embarrassment to our Country. Free Speech has been taken away from the President of the United States because the Radical Left Lunatics are afraid of the truth, but the truth will come out anyway, bigger and stronger than ever before."

"The People of our Country will not stand for it! These corrupt social media companies must pay a political price, and must never again be allowed to destroy and decimate our Electoral Process." (https://bit.ly/3nOkBIh)

FACEBOOK OVERSIGHT BOARD

"The Board has upheld Facebook's decision on Jan. 7 to suspend then-President Trump from Facebook and Instagram. Trump's posts during the Capitol riot severely violated Facebook's rules and encouraged and legitimized violence."

"The Board also found Facebook violated its own rules by imposing a suspension that was 'indefinite.' This penalty is not described in Facebook's content policies. It has no clear criteria and gives Facebook total discretion on when to impose or lift it." (https://bit.ly/3upiaOF)

HELLE THORNING-SCHMIDT, FACEBOOK OVERSIGHT BOARD CO-CHAIR AND FORMER DANISH PRIME MINISTER

"We are telling them very, very clearly that they did the right thing when they removed Trump from their platforms. But they can't just invent rules as they go along."

NICK CLEGG, FACEBOOK'S HEAD OF GLOBAL AFFAIRS

"The (oversight) board also made a number of recommendations on how we should improve our policies. While these recommendations are not binding, we actively sought the board's views on our policies around political figures and will carefully review its recommendations." (https://bit.ly/33fJGSH)

JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE SPOKESWOMAN

"The president's view is that the major platforms have a responsibility related to the health and safety of all Americans to stop amplifying untrustworthy content, disinformation and misinformation, especially related to COVID-19, vaccinations and elections."

"His view is that there is more that needs to be done to ensure that this type of misinformation, disinformation, damaging - sometimes life-threatening - information is not going out to the American public."

STENY HOYER, U.S. HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER - DEMOCRAT

"I applaud that decision. Facebook is not the public square," Hoyer said in a Washington Post live interview.

Facebook's decision says they do not want to be an organ for somebody who incited an insurrection, he added.

"So they've made a determination and they don't want to be an avenue to convey that, through their medium, and I think they have the right to do that."

KEVIN MCCARTHY, U.S. HOUSE MINORITY LEADER - REPUBLICAN

"Facebook is more interested in acting like a Democrat Super PAC than a platform for free speech and open debate. If they can ban President Trump, all conservative voices could be next. A House Republican majority will rein in big tech power over our speech."

ADAM SCHIFF, U.S REPRESENTATIVE AND CHAIRMAN OF U.S HOUSE INTELLIGENCE PANEL - DEMOCRAT

"The president is continuing to go out here and push the big lie about the election, continuing I think to endanger our democracy by doing that, and so he continues to make the case that he would violate the policies if they readmitted him."

RICK SCOTT, REPUBLICAN SENATOR

"Big tech thinks it can control everything. Companies that censor Americans while giving brutal dictators a pass should not have free rein over your personal data to use for their benefit." (https://bit.ly/3uz0cJT)

MARSHA BLACKBURN, REPUBLICAN SENATOR

"Facebook's decision to uphold its ban on President Donald Trump is extremely disappointing. It's clear that Mark Zuckerberg views himself as the arbiter of speech." (https://bit.ly/33h3hC7)

RO KHANNA, U.S. REPRESENTATIVE AND DEMOCRATIC VICE CHAIR OF THE CONGRESSIONAL CAUCUS ON INDIA

I support the FB Oversight Board's nuanced decision to uphold the suspension which is consistent with the principles I have articulated to balance ethical community standards with user speech. (https://bit.ly/3ePvHIQ)

JONATHAN GREENBLATT, CEO OF ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE

"Let me be clear, you don't get a cookie for showing up to class. We didn't need [the Oversight Board's] process to tell us what we already knew, that Donald Trump needed to be permanently banned from Facebook."

RASHAD ROBINSON, PRESIDENT OF COLOR OF CHANGE

"I think it's dangerous that we have to pay so much attention to it, because our government has failed to act to rein in a true monopoly that is causing so much damage and harm."

EMMA LLANSÓ, DIRECTOR OF THE CENTER FOR DEMOCRACY & TECHNOLOGY'S FREE EXPRESSION PROJECT

"They (the board) really called out the fact that Facebook was seemingly trying to push the very difficult final decision of 'Should Trump be allowed on the Facebook platform or not?' on to the oversight board, and the oversight board very clearly said it is Facebook's responsibility to make that call."

ROSE JACKSON, DIRECTOR OF POLICY INITIATIVE AT THE ATLANTIC COUNCIL'S DIGITAL FORENSIC RESEARCH LAB

"By temporarily upholding the ban but demanding the company clarify its fairly haphazard policy on influential people (called 'newsworthiness') and indefinite suspensions, the board is testing its ability to take a question posed and throw back a better one. Now it is up to Facebook to respond."

(Reporting by Subrat Patnaik, Tiyashi Datta, Eva Mathews in Bengaluru, Elizabeth Culliford and Helen Coster in New York, Sheila Dang in Dallas, Texas and Andrea Shalal, Timothy Ryan in Washington D.C.; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

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