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การตัดสินใจของคณะกรรมการกำกับดูแลของ Facebook เกี่ยวกับทรัมป์เป็นสถานการณ์ที่เลวร้ายที่สุดสำหรับ Mark Zuckerberg

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At first glance, today’s decision by Facebook’s Oversight Board to uphold the suspension of former President Donald Trump seems like just the kind of backup Mark Zuckerberg was looking for from the “independent” body he created. But, upon closer inspection, today’s ruling is pretty much a disaster for Facebook.

The Oversight Board ruled on Wednesday that it was appropriate for Facebook to have banned President Trump, following his posts supporting the pro-Trump mob that stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6. But they said that keeping him in the social media purgatory of “indefinite suspension” was not in keeping with the platform’s existing policies.

Basically the matter now goes back to Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg to either tell Trump when the suspension will end or straight-up ban him and permanently delete his accounts.

The decision to uphold Trump’s suspension is obviously notable in and of itself, but the real meat of the Oversight Board’s ruling comes further down in their statement. The board directs Facebook to stop arbitrarily enforcing their rules and the penalties that go along with them whenever it pleases. “Facebook cannot make up the rules as it goes, and anyone concerned about its power should be concerned about allowing this,” they write.

If Trump’s posts on Jan. 6 violated its rules, per the board, then the company needs to make that clear and enforce these same rules for everyone — including other political leaders around the world. On top of that, the Oversight Board called out Facebook for not examining how its very own platform contributed to the events that played out at the Capitol on Jan. 6.

This clearly isn’t exactly what Facebook was hoping for, despite their statement that they were pleased with the decision and recommendations.

From the moment Mark Zuckerberg announced the formation of the Oversight Board three years ago, Facebook’s staunchest critics have knocked the board for what it appeared to be: a PR ploy meant to shelter the social media giant from making tough decisions.

Facebook funds the Oversight Board. Facebook chooses the members on the board. Yet, this body is somehow considered independent of Facebook. It takes cases about specific content decisions made by the company on its platforms, like Facebook and Instagram, and its rulings on these specific cases are binding. However, the broad policy suggestions made by the board to Facebook are not. So this certainly doesn’t mean we’re about to Facebook pivot to being proactive and even-handed about content moderation in general.

In terms of the specific situation of Trump’s banning, Facebook decided on Jan. 21 to send the decision to suspend Trump up to the Oversight Board, claiming the matter was too big for the company to determine on its own. In reality, Facebook was using this as a way to punt the responsibility to an outside entity specifically set up by Facebook to dissipate the heat that comes with these kinds of actions.

Facebook knows it has a large user base of right-leaning, conservative users. If the Oversight Board plainly upheld the indefinite suspension, it could cite this “third party” as responsible for the final decision. If the board overturned the suspension and Trump was brought back to the platform, it could tell the broader public that the company’s hands were now tied and they had to reinstate him due to the binding ruling.

But that plan seems, against all odds, to have backfired. Instead, the Oversight Board has, ironically, pushed the decision back to Zuckerberg.

In its decision, the Oversight Board explicitly uses Facebook’s own request against the company. The board states that when the case was referred to them, “Facebook specifically requested ‘observations or recommendations from the Board about suspensions when the user is a political leader.'”

Taking that into account, it seems impossible to act on the Trump case as if it was a sole content moderation decision. The Oversight Board wants Facebook to clearly outline its policies as well as the consequences of violating them so this doesn’t happen again in the future.

In fact, the Oversight Board brings up Facebook’s own role quite directly when telling Facebook to review its own contributions to what occurred on Jan. 6.

“This should be an open reflection on the design and policy choices that Facebook has made that may allow its platform to be abused,” the Oversight Board said.

This cannot be what Facebook had in mind when it set up the Oversight Board.

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