Facebook Oversight Board co-chair blasts indefinite Trump ban and tech giant's 'not transparent, inconsistent' rules

A TOP member of Facebook Oversight Board has slammed the social media giant's decision to ban former President Donald Trump indefinitely from the platform.

Michael McConnell, a former federal judge, blasted the firm's rules as a "shambles" as the board upheld its ban on Trump over his posts around the Capitol riot on January 6.

Speaking on Fox News, the board's co-chair McConnell said: "We gave them a certain amount of time to get their house in order.

"They needed some time because their rules are a shambles. They are not transparent. They are unclear.

"They are internally inconsistent. So we made a series of recommendations about how to make their rules clearer and more consistent."

It comes after Trump himself blasted Facebook and "radical left lunatics" as he raged "corrupt" big tech companies must pay the price.

The site's independent Oversight Board made the decision to uphold restrictions on the former president's account on Wednesday.

However, the board noted it was "not appropriate" to impose the "indeterminate and standardless penalty of indefinite suspension." 

McConnell said: "Mr. Trump is subject to the same rules on Facebook as everyone else, and the Oversight Board held that this was in fact a violation and thus Facebook was justified in taking them down.

"What we did say, though, was that they were not justified in taking him down indefinitely, that they did not provide any reasons for that, that is not a provision in their rules.

"That was wrong."

The former judge said the tech firm "exercises too much power" – saying they are "arbitrary" and "inconsistent", and he said the Oversight Board wants to try and introduce "discipline" to the process.

McConnell however said "no judge in the country" would rule that Trump's free speech had been violated following outrage over the ban from Republicans.

GOP figures have since threatened to try and introduce legislation against tech companies who they believed have an anti-conservative bias.

He said: "It’s, of course, up to Congress to decide what the antitrust laws are gonna be. This is not a First Amendment issue.

"It’s, of course, up to Congress to decide what the antitrust laws are gonna be. This is not a First Amendment issue."

McConnell added: "Mr. Trump is the one who issued those inflammatory posts at the very time when rioters were invading the Congress and shutting down the constitutionally prescribed process for counting electoral votes. He issued those posts.

"He is responsible for doing that. He bears responsibility for his own situation. He put himself in this bed, and he can sleep in it."

Following his ban being upheld, Trump issued a statement calling Facebook, Twitter and Google a "total disgrace and am 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," he said.

Trump was indefinitely banned form Facebook back in January after thousands of his supporters stormed the US Capitol and attacked police in a bid to try an overturn the election.

It came after Trump repeatedly pushed the so-called "Big Lie" that somehow an enormous, multi-state, and possibly international, conspiracy was executed against him to hand Joe Biden a historic win.

However, the board did insist that it was "not appropriate" for the board to indefinitely suspend the then-president.

"It is not permissible for Facebook to keep a user off the platform for an undefined period, with no criteria for when or whether the account will be restored," the board determined, adding that Facebook "did not follow a clear, published procedure."

Despite keeping Trump restricted from the platform, the board ruled that "within six months of today, Facebook must review this matter and decide a new penalty."

This penalty, the board said, would have to be either imposing a time-limit on the suspension of deleting Trump's account entirely.

Prior to the decision, the former president's team dubbed that his social media platform is "essential" for if Trump runs for reelection in 2024 – something he has been hinting at in recent weeks.

"Getting this account back is not only essential for his future political viability," an anonymous Trump source told the outlet.

"It would also be an undoing of an unjust act by a social-media company that made an ad hoc ruling to deplatform a sitting president."

Trump is also still banned from several others platforms, such as Twitter, YouTube and Instagram – however, it's Facebook that's most key to his bid for reelection, according to the outlet.

Trump's team reportedly spent nearly $160million on Facebook adverts in 2020.

Alongside this, his team used the platform to update fans on the then-president's whereabouts, important updates and general interaction.

Following the decision, Trump's closest supporters rallied behind him in solidarity.

Republican leader Kevin McCarthy tweeted: "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," he wrote.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz blasted the move as "disgraceful" and asked "if the Big Tech oligarchs can muzzle the former President, what’s to stop them from silencing you?"

Asked about the ban during a media briefing, Biden's press secretary Jen Psaki said "we're not going to have any comment on the future of the former president's social media platform."

The decision to keep the restrictions in place came just one day after Trump launched a new communications platform to speak to his fans.

The platform, "From the Desk of Donald Trump", appears on www.DonaldJTrump.com/desk and will eventually give him the ability to communicate directly with his supporters, Fox News reported.

The space will also allows Trump to post comments, images and videos.

It appears powered by Campaign Nucleus, a "digital ecosystem made for efficiently managing political campaigns and organizations," created by his former campaign manager, Brad Parscale.

The space allows Trump to post, and allows his followers to share those posts to Twitter and Facebook.

However, the platform does not yet have a feature to allow users to "reply" or otherwise engage with the former president's posts.

"This is just a one-way communication," a source close to the project explained to Fox.

"This system allows Trump to communicate with his followers." 

And on Tuesday night, Trump once again hinted at a presidential run in 2024, claiming fans will be "very happy" when he makes a "certain announcement."

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