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The social media giant failed to block a bid that could ban it from sending data about its 410 million European users to the United States.Ireland’s data regulator can resume a probe that may trigger a ban on Facebook’s transatlantic data transfers, the High Court ruled on Friday, raising the prospect of a stoppage that the company warns would have a devastating impact on its business.
The case stems from European Union concerns that United States government surveillance may not respect the privacy rights of EU citizens when their personal data is sent to the US for commercial use.
The Republic of Ireland’s Data Protection Commission (DPC), Facebook’s lead regulator in the EU, launched an inquiry in August and issued a provisional order that the main mechanism Facebook uses to transfer EU user data to the US “cannot in practice be used”.
Facebook had challenged both the inquiry and the preliminary draft decision (PDD), saying they threatened “devastating” and “irreversible” consequences for its business, which relies on processing user data to serve targeted online ads.
The High Court rejected the challenge on Friday.
“I refuse all of the reliefs sought by FBI [Facebook Ireland] and dismiss the claims made by it in the proceedings,” Justice David Barniville said in a judgement that ran to nearly 200 pages.
“FBI has not established any basis for impugning the DPC decision or the PDD or the procedures for the inquiry adopted by the DPC,” the judgement said.
While the decision does not trigger an immediate halt to data flows, Austrian privacy activist Max Schrems, who forced the Irish data regulator to act in a series of legal actions over the past eight years, said he believed the decision made it inevitable.
“After eight years, the DPC is now required to stop Facebook’s EU-US data transfers, likely before summer,” he said.
A Facebook spokesman said the company looked forward to defending its compliance with EU data rules as the Irish regulator’s provisional order “could be damaging not only to Facebook, but also to users and other businesses”.
If the Irish data regulator enforces the provisional order, it would effectively end the privileged access companies in the US have to personal data from Europe and put them on the same footing as companies in other nations outside the bloc.
The mechanism being questioned by the Irish regulator, the standard contractual clause (SCC), was deemed valid by the European Court of Justice in a July decision.
But the Court of Justice also ruled that, under SCCs, privacy watchdogs must suspend or prohibit transfers outside the EU if data protection in other countries cannot be assured.
A lawyer for Facebook in December told the High Court that the Irish regulator’s draft decision, if implemented, “would have devastating consequences” for Facebook’s business, impacting Facebook’s 410 million active users in Europe, hitting political groups and undermining freedom of speech.
Irish Data Protection Commissioner Helen Dixon in February said companies more broadly may face massive disruption to transatlantic data flows as a result of the European Court of Justice decision.
Dixon’s office welcomed the decision on Friday, but declined further comment.
This is the best tl;dr I could make, original reduced by 75%. (I’m a bot)Noted poet K Satchidanandan has alleged that he was restrained by Facebook from liking, commenting and sharing posts for 24-hours after he tried to upload online a satire video on the BJP’s defeat in the recently concluded Kerala assembly polls.”In solidarity with Satchidanandan, leading contemporary Malayalam poet and former secretary of National Sahitya Academy, whose Facebook account has been closed for posting a video on PM Modi in relation to BJP defeat in recent Kerala election. A most deplorable act. #Facebook”, he tweeted.Spokesperson of the Kerala unit of BJP, M S Kumar said people don’t expect ‘substandard’ posts from a great poet like Satchidanandan.Extended Summary | FAQ | Feedback | Top keywords: media#1 Kerala#2 social#3 Facebook#4 poet#5
Trump was suspended from Facebook and Instagram after posting a video during the attack(FILE)Washington: Donald Trump encouraged the Capitol rioters and so earned his Facebook ban, but the social media giant’s rules are in “shambles” and need fixing, the co-chair of the network’s oversight panel said Sunday.The panel agreed just days ago that Facebook was right to oust the ex-president for his comments regarding the deadly January 6 rampage, though it sidestepped an overall decision on whether he will ever be allowed back.”He issued these statements which were just egging on — with perfunctory asking for peace — but mostly he was just egging them on to continue,” oversight body co-chair Michael McConnell told Fox News Sunday.Trump was suspended from Facebook and Instagram after posting a video during the attack by his fired-up supporters challenging his election loss, in which he told them: “We love you, you’re very special.””He (Trump) bears responsibility for his own situation. He put himself in this bed and he can sleep in it,” McConnell added.However, the panel gave the company six months to justify why his ban should be permanent — leaving a grenade in Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s lap on the issue of free speech, and spotlighting weaknesses in the platform’s plan for self-regulation.”We gave them (Facebook) a certain amount of time to get… their house in order,” McConnell said. “They needed some time because their rules are shambles… They are unclear, they are internally inconsistent.”McConnell, a constitutional law professor at Stanford, noted that the social media giant was not violating Trump’s free speech rights.- ‘Facebook is not a government’ -“The simple willing answer is private companies are not bound by the First Amendment,” he said referring the US constitution. “He’s a customer. Facebook is not a government, and he is not a citizen of Facebook.”In its ruling, the oversight board — envisioned by Zuckerberg as the equivalent of a “supreme court” for thorny content decisions — made additional recommendations on dealing with potentially harmful content from world leaders.The panel “called on Facebook to address widespread confusion about how decisions relating to influential users are made” and said “considerations of newsworthiness should not take priority when urgent action is needed to prevent significant harm.”Twitter has permanently suspended Trump after the Capitol riot, saying there was a risk he would further incite violence, due to his multiple tweets disputing Joe Biden’s presidential election victory.Twitter on Thursday confirmed that it had pulled the plug on several Trump-linked accounts trying to skirt the ban.Social media had been key to Trump’s political success, letting him fire off comments without having to explain or back claims.At a recent hearing on Capitol Hill, US lawmakers unleashed criticism at the leaders of the top social networks, and promised new regulations.Zuckerberg, Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, and Google’s Sundar Pichai faced questions from lawmakers who blamed their platforms for political extremism, drug abuse, teen suicides and more.Zuckerberg reiterated his belief that private companies should not be the judges of truth when it comes to what people say.(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
Lurking beneath Facebook’s decision on whether to continue Donald Trump’s suspension from its platform is a far more complex and consequential question. AP PhotoWASHINGTON: Lurking beneath Facebook’s decision on whether to continue Donald Trump’s suspension from its platform is a far more complex and consequential question: Do the protections carved out for companies when the internet was in its infancy 25 years ago make sense when some of them have become global powerhouses with almost unlimited reach? The companies have provided a powerful megaphone for Trump, other world leaders and billions of users to air their grievances, even ones that are false or damaging to someone’s reputation, knowing that the platforms themselves were shielded from liability for content posted by users. Now that shield is getting a critical look in the current climate of hostility toward Big Tech and the social environment of political polarization, hate speech and violence against minorities. The debate is starting to take root in Congress, and the action this week by Facebook’s quasi-independent oversight board upholding the company’s suspension of Trump’s accounts could add momentum to that legislative effort. Under the 1996 Communications Decency Act, digital platform companies have legal protection both for content they carry and for removing postings they deem offensive. The shelter from lawsuits and prosecution applies to social media posts, uploaded videos, user reviews of restaurants or doctors, classified ads – or the doxing underworld of thousands of websites that profit from false and defamatory information on individuals. Section 230 of the law, which outlines the shield, was enacted when many of the most powerful social media companies didn’t even exist. It allowed companies like Facebook, Twitter and Google to grow into the behemoths they are today. Republicans accuse the social media platforms of suppressing conservative voices and giving a stage to foreign leaders branded as dictators, while Trump is barred. Democrats and civil rights groups decry the digital presence of far-right extremists and pin blame on the platforms for disseminating hate speech and stoking extremist violence. “For too long, social media platforms have hidden behind Section 230 protections to censor content that deviates from their beliefs,” Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi, the senior Republican on the Senate Commerce Committee, has said. On this, Trump and President Joe Biden apparently agree. Trump, while president, called for the repeal of Section 230, branding it “a serious threat to our national security and election integrity.” Biden said during his campaign that it “immediately should be revoked,” though he hasn’t spoken about the issue at length as president. Facebook, with a strong lobbying presence in Washington and a desire to have an input into any changes, has stepped out in favor of revisions to Section 230. Congress should update the 1996 law “to make sure it’s working as intended,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said. And he’s offered a specific suggestion: Congress could require internet platforms to gain legal protection only by proving that their systems for identifying illegal content are up to snuff. Some critics see a clever gambit in that, a requirement that could make it more difficult for smaller tech companies and startups to comply and would ultimately advantage Facebook over smaller competitors. Spokespeople for Twitter and Google declined to comment on the prospects for legislative action on Section 230 following the Facebook board ruling; a spokesperson for Menlo Park, California-based Facebook had no immediate comment. The decision announced by the Facebook oversight board upheld the suspension of Trump, an extremely rare move that was based on the company’s conclusion that he incited violence leading to the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riot. But the overseers told Facebook to specify how long the suspension would last, saying its “indefinite” ban on the former president was unreasonable. The ruling, which gives Facebook six months to comply, effectively postpones any possible Trump reinstatement and puts the onus for that decision squarely back on the company. Trump was permanently banned after the riot from Twitter, his favored bullhorn. But it was Facebook that played an integral role in both of Trump’s campaigns, not just as a way to speak to his more than 32 million followers but also as a fundraising juggernaut driving small-dollar contributions through highly targeted ads. Critics of Facebook generally saw the oversight board’s ruling as positive. But some view the board as a distraction by Facebook to skirt its responsibility and to stave off action by Congress or the Biden administration. What must be addressed, critics insist, are the broader problems for society from the fearsome power, market dominance and underlying business model of Facebook and the other tech giants – harvesting data from platform users and making it available to online advertisers so they can pinpoint consumers to target. That’s where the debate over changes to Section 230 comes in, as a key area for new regulation of social media. Gautam Hans, a technology law and free-speech expert and professor at Vanderbilt University, said he finds the board to be “a bit of a sideshow from the larger policy and social questions that we have about these companies.” FacebookTwitterLinkedinEMail
Facebook CEO Mark ZuckerbergMarlene Awaad | Bloomberg | Getty ImagesFacebook, the world’s largest social media platform, found itself in a public dispute with communications app Signal this week over an ad campaign.The encrypted messaging service — a non-profit that rivals Facebook-owned WhatsApp — said in a blog on Tuesday that Facebook had blocked one of its ad campaigns on Instagram, which is owned by Facebook.The campaign was designed to show Instagram users the amount of data that Instagram and parent firm Facebook collect on users.”We created a multi-variant targeted ad designed to show you the personal data that Facebook collects about you and sells access to,” Signal wrote. “The ad would simply display some of the information collected about the viewer, which the advertising platform uses.”Signal used Instagram’s own adtech tools to target the ads at users. Here is example text of one of the ads from Signal: “You got this ad because you’re a teacher, but more importantly you’re a Leo (and single). This ad used your location to see you’re in Moscow. You like to support sketch comedy, and this ad thinks you do drag.” Signal said that Facebook “wasn’t into that idea” and claimed that its ad account had been disabled as a result.”Being transparent about how ads use people’s data is apparently enough to get banned,” Signal wrote. “In Facebook’s world, the only acceptable usage is to hide what you’re doing from your audience.”Facebook described the ad campaign as a stunt and claimed that Signal had never actually tried to run the Instagram campaign.”This is a stunt by Signal, who never even tried to actually run these ads — and we didn’t shut down their ad account for trying to do so,” a Facebook spokesperson told CNBC on Thursday.”If Signal had tried to run the ads, a couple of them would have been rejected because our advertising policies prohibit ads that assert that you have a specific medical condition or sexual orientation, as Signal should know. But of course, running the ads was never their goal — it was about getting publicity.”Signal countered on Twitter that it “absolutely did” try to run the ads. “The ads were rejected, and Facebook disabled our ad account. These are real screenshots, as Facebook should know.”Joe Osborne, a Facebook spokesperson, responded on Twitter on Wednesday saying the screenshots are from early March “when the ad account was briefly disabled for a few days due to an unrelated payments issue.”Osborne added: “The ads themselves were never rejected as they were never set by Signal to run. The ad account has been available since early March, and the ads that don’t violate our policies could have run since then.”Signal is funded by Brian Acton, the entrepreneur who sold WhatsApp to Facebook for $22 billion, making himself a billionaire several times over in the process.Acton left Facebook and WhatsApp in 2017 and later claimed that Facebook was laying the groundwork to show targeted ads and facilitate commercial messaging in WhatsApp.Following the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Acton tweeted: “It is time. #deletefacebook.”Venture capitalist Bill Gurley said on Thursday that the Signal vs. Facebook story is “remarkable.””The biggest threat to Facebook is a non-profit funded by WhatsApp founders,” he said. “Such a great story. What was Facebook argument for banning these ads? Too much transparency? My favorite prize fight.”
WASHINGTON: Social media has been his weapon of choice for battling Republican dissidents, but Donald Trump is seeking to tighten his iron grip on the party even after a ruling Wednesday extending his ban on Facebook. Despite losing the presidency to Joe Biden last year and enduring a second impeachment after January’s deadly insurrection at the US Capitol, the brash billionaire remains his party’s most influential figure. He made clear he knows it Wednesday, reiterating his false claims of election fraud and demanding a leadership shake-up which led his former rival Biden to declare that a “mini-revolution” was upending the Republican Party. Trump blasted party leaders who have publicly reprimanded him, including top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell, or who voted to impeach him in January, most notably number three House Republican Liz Cheney who appears increasingly likely to face removal from her conference chairmanship. “Liz Cheney is a warmongering fool who has no business in Republican Party leadership,” Trump said in a fervid statement, adding that he backs leaders who believe in his “Make America Great Again” movement. New York Republican congresswoman “Elise Stefanik is a far superior choice, and she has my COMPLETE and TOTAL endorsement for GOP conference chair,” he said. Stefanik, a 36-year-old onetime moderate who went all-in for Trump during his presidency, voted against certifying the election results for Biden in multiple swing states. Trump’s endorsement comes amid rising party tensions over Cheney, the most senior Republican woman in Congress, who has refused to tamp down her public denunciations of Trump. And it all but assures that a conference-wide vote on whether to keep Cheney in the post will occur soon after lawmakers return to Washington next week. Cheney, a third-term congresswoman from Wyoming, punched back at Trump in a new op-ed. Her party was “at a turning point,” she wrote in The Washington Post, calling on fellow Republicans to “steer away from the dangerous and anti-democratic Trump cult of personality.” “History is watching,” she added. The internal tug-of-war caught the attention of Biden, who told reporters Wednesday he was surprised at the Republican revolt. “I think the Republicans are further away from trying to figure out who they are and what they stand for than I thought they would be at this point,” he said. Minutes after Facebook’s independent oversight board upheld a ban on Trump — although it ordered the social media giant to further review the case — he blasted the restriction as a “total disgrace” and warned against limiting a president’s free speech rights. He also repeated his audacious lie that Biden and other Democrats stole the election. Cheney “continues to unknowingly and foolishly say that there was no election fraud in the 2020 presidential election when in fact, the evidence… shows the exact opposite,” Trump seethed. “Had gutless and clueless MINORITY Leader Mitch McConnell… fought to expose all of the corruption that was presented at the time, with more found since, we would have had a far different presidential result, and our country would not be turning into a socialist nightmare.” The former president added a rallying cry to his supporters: “Never give up!” With Trump considering another White House run, he launched a new page on his website where he pledges to present information to voters “straight from the desk of Donald J Trump.” But he no doubt misses the social media megaphone that allowed him to dominate news cycles and impulsively blast his message to more than 100 million followers. “To be clear, if you are Trump and you want to have influence in 2022 and 2024 — and possibly run for office in 2024 — it is better to be on social media than not,” Professor Joshua Tucker, co-director of New York University’s Center for Social Media and Politics, told AFP. Trump’s attacks Wednesday appeared aimed at clipping the wings of high-profile Republicans who have not embraced his false voter fraud narrative. Cheney, 54, is one of few congressional Republicans who openly declare Trump lost fair and square in November. She repeated the assertion Monday, tweeting that anyone who claims the 2020 election was stolen “is spreading THE BIG LIE (and) poisoning our democratic system.” While Cheney easily won a secret ballot vote by Republicans in February, the Trump-backed challenge to her leadership role may well end with her ouster. Top House Republican Kevin McCarthy backed Cheney in February but was recently caught on a hot mic saying he has “lost confidence” in her. FacebookTwitterLinkedinEMail
Facebook Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies at a House Financial Services Committee hearing in Washington, October 23, 2019.Erin Scott | ReutersIn 1803, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall was faced with an impossible decision. He could disagree with President Thomas Jefferson on the matter of Marbury v. Madison, calling his administration’s actions illegal and risk that Jefferson would immediately dismiss or ignore the court’s decision. Or he could bow to the executive branch, agree with its actions, and be allowed a crumb of power within the young U.S. democracy. In the end, Marshall and the rest of the court made an astounding decision. In its ruling, the court criticized the administration’s actions, but ultimately upheld them by ruling that the law in question was unconstitutional. The decision is held as the most important in U.S. constitutional law because although Jefferson ultimately got the ruling he wanted, in the process Marshall established the principle of judicial review. The ruling set a precedent for the legitimacy and power of the Supreme Court in the U.S., firmly establishing its powers of accountability over the executive and legislative branches. That process was repeated on Wednesday in the modern arena of a technology empire. Facing its first major case since its creation in October 2020, Facebook’s Oversight Board upheld the company’s decision to restrict former President Donald Trump’s access to his Facebook and Instagram accounts. But while it agreed with the actions taken by Facebook and CEO Mark Zuckerberg following the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, the Oversight Board also criticized the way the company arrived at its decision and demanded that Facebook clarify and codify its content policies. The decision leaves Zuckerberg in a similar spot that Marshall put Jefferson. He got the result he wanted, but at the cost of his absolute power.The first real test for the Oversight BoardTo understand the significance of Wednesday’s decision, it’s important to remember how Facebook’s Oversight Board came to be.The independent body was announced by Zuckerberg in November 2018, after the company had faced a grueling avalanche of critical news reports and scandals for months.”I’ve increasingly come to believe that Facebook should not make so many important decisions about free expression and safety on our own,” Zuckerberg said in a note published on Nov. 15, 2018. That was one day after the New York Times had published a scathing report detailing how COO Sheryl Sandberg and other Facebook execs tried to downplay and spin bad news.Zuckerberg announced the independent body, and then nothing happened for more than a year.It wasn’t until January 2020 that the company finally unveiled the bylaws for its Oversight Board. Despite Zuckerberg contending that the board’s decisions would be binding, the bylaws contained a number loopholes and binds that left the company firmly in charge. Notably, the board would only be funded for six years, and more importantly, the board’s decisions would apply narrowly, with Facebook retaining final say on whether or not to broadly apply the decisions of the board.These limitations weren’t surprising, given how much power Zuckerberg has singlehandedly wielded over his domain since the creation of Facebook in 2004.Zuckerberg has close personal ties with most of the members of his board of directors, and directors who attempt to exercise oversight tend to leave the board not soon after, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. Most significantly, Zuckerberg holds controlling power from his shares of Facebook stock, making the votes held by the company’s investors irrelevant. This is why time and again, proposals pitched at the company’s annual shareholders meeting are swiftly rejected, despite in some cases receiving support from a majority of shareholders not named Zuckerberg.This is why a group of Facebook critics decided to launch their own “Real Facebook Oversight Board” in September 2020. The group holds no power or influence, but its mere existence symbolized how little trust or hope anyone outside the walls of Facebook had for the actual Oversight Board.It wasn’t until October 2020 that the Oversight Board finally launched, and by then, it was too late for the board to have any sort of say on the company’s handling of the 2020 U.S. election.Since then, the board has handled a few cases. But the independent body didn’t really get its first test until Jan. 21, when Facebook announced that it would refer its decision to suspend Trump indefinitely.Halving the differenceAs with the case of Marbury v. Madison, the Facebook Oversight Board found itself in an impossible position with its first major test.Had the board overturned Facebook’s decision to restrict Trump, it would’ve absolved the company from its responsibilities and drawn harsh criticism from anybody on the left of the U.S. political spectrum as well as Trump’s many critics around the world. The ruling would’ve undermined Facebook’s own decision in January and would’ve pressed Zuckerberg to prove (or disprove) his commitment to the board’s rulings.On the other hand, simply agreeing with Facebook would have drawn criticism from Trump’s adherents and positioned the board as little more than Zuckerberg’s puppet.Instead, the Oversight Board halved the difference, upholding the suspension while taking the company to task by broadly criticizing its policies and demanding that Facebook commit to a six-month re-evaluation. That process will require the company to reassess its penalty on Trump and decide an appropriate duration for that penalty that is consistent with Facebook’s rules and do so in a way that is “clear, necessary and proportionate.”In this ruling, the Oversight Board did not mince words or back away from its impossible task.”In applying a vague, standardless penalty and then referring this case to the Board to resolve, Facebook seeks to avoid its responsibilities,” the board said in its note announcing its decision. “The Board declines Facebook’s request and insists that Facebook apply and justify a defined penalty.”Like Marshall and the early Supreme Court, the board used this case as an opportunity to establish that it will define its purpose, not Facebook.”It is Facebook’s role to create necessary and proportionate penalties that respond to severe violations of its content policies,” the board wrote. “The Board’s role is to ensure that Facebook’s rules and processes are consistent with its content policies, its values and its human rights commitments.”The board’s ruling extended beyond Trump’s specific suspension. In the ruling, the board criticized the company in other areas, echoing complaints outsiders have had for years, and laid out several specific recommendations for how the company can start to get a handle on the matters.These recommendations address how the company distinguishes between users who are government and political leaders from users who have widespread followings, and how the company handles situations when an influential user makes posts that pose a high probability of imminent harm. The recommendations also call on Facebook to address confusion about how decisions are made regarding these highly influential users, and the recommendations call on Facebook to report how many accounts it restricts based on region and country in the company’s regular transparency reports.Proving its powerIn arriving at its decision, the board has done what no other body within the walls of Facebook’s empire has dared to do: Publicly and officially criticize the company for its very real failures and the significant impact those failures have had on human rights and democracy across the globe.More importantly, the board established its legitimacy and independence and cornered Zuckerberg into validating its power. The rest is now up to Zuckerberg.Should he commit to and comply with the board’s decisions and recommendations, he can legitimize the power of the board while giving up some of his own control.If he ignores what the board had to say and undermines it, he will reveal the independent body as nothing more than a sham to conceal that there are no checks and balances in the Facebook empire. Facebook’s initial response suggests it hasn’t decided which way to go.Facebook Vice President of Global Affairs and Communications Nick Clegg said the company is pleased with the board’s ruling to recognize that the company’s actions in January were justified. Clegg thanked the board, and he said Facebook will consider the six-month review and its numerous recommendations. Clegg, however, did not commit the company to anything beyond the decision to keep Trump off of Facebook.It’s an initial and short reaction, but the lack of commitment to the board’s recommendation is notable.It’s worth calling back to Zuckerberg’s words when he first introduced the idea of this independent body.”I believe independence is important for a few reasons,” Zuckerberg wrote in November 2018. “First, it will prevent the concentration of too much decision-making within our teams. Second, it will create accountability and oversight. Third, it will provide assurance that these decisions are made in the best interests of our community and not for commercial reasons.”If Facebook wants the world to believe it’s serious about following consistent policies, it must make a commitment to the six-month review process and follow through with the board’s demands. Otherwise, this Oversight Board is exactly what critics always thought it would be: A joke.
Facebook oversight board said company was right to ban Trump after the Jan 6 storming of the US CapitolFacebook oversight board on Wednesday upheld the company’s suspension of former US President Donald Trump but said the company was wrong to make the suspension indefinite and gave it six months to determine a “proportionate response.”Trump called the decision and his banning across tech platforms “a total disgrace” and said the companies would “pay a political price.”The much-awaited board verdict has been watched for signals on how the world’s largest social media company will treat rule-breaking political leaders in the future, a key area of controversy for online platforms.The board, created by Facebook to rule on a small slice of its content decisions, said the company was right to ban Trump following the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol by pro-Trump supporters.Facebook indefinitely blocked Trump’s access to his Facebook and Instagram accounts over concerns of further violent unrest following the Jan. 6 riot. It enacted the suspension after removing two of Trump’s posts during the Capitol riot, including a video in which he said supporters should go home but reiterated his false claim of widespread voter fraud, saying “I know your pain. I know you’re hurt. We had an election that was stolen from us.”But the board said Facebook inappropriately imposed a suspension without clear standards and that the company should determine a response consistent with rules applied to other users. It said the company could determine that Trump’s account could be restored, suspended temporarily or permanently banned.”Indefinite penalties of this sort do not pass the international or American smell test for clarity, consistency, and transparency,” said former federal judge Michael McConnell, co-chair of the Oversight Board, during a press conference after publishing its decision on Wednesday.In an interview with Reuters, board co-chair and former Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt said public figures should not be allowed to incite violence or create harm though their posts, but that Facebook “can’t just invent new sanctions as they go along.”In its decision, the board said Facebook refused to answer some of the 46 questions it posed, including those on how its news feed affected the visibility of Trump’s posts, and whether the company planned to look into how its technology amplified content as it had done in the events leading to the Capitol siege.The board said Facebook’s existing policies, such as deciding when material is too newsworthy to remove, need to be more clearly communicated to users. It also called on Facebook to develop a policy that governs how it handles novel situations where its existing rules would be insufficient to prevent imminent harm.Facebook’s business has thrived during the controversy and its main source of revenue, advertising, has boomed as COVID-19 pandemic restrictions begin to ease in the United States, but lawmakers across the political spectrum have raised concerns about the power of Facebook and other social media, many calling for new regulations and some calling for breakups of big tech.Trump called the move “an embarrassment to our Country,” and added that “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.”At a Financial Times conference after the verdict, Nick Clegg, Facebook’s vice president of global affairs and communication, said the company would hope to resolve the matter “considerably faster” than six months.Tech platforms have grappled in recent years with how to police world leaders and politicians that violate their guidelines. Facebook has come under fire both from those who think it should abandon its hands-off approach to political speech and those, including Republican lawmakers and some free-expression advocates who saw the Trump ban as a disturbing act of censorship.Facebook was one of a slew of social media sites that barred the former president, including Twitter Inc, which banned him permanently. Political leaders from German Chancellor Angela Merkel to U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders expressed concern that private companies could silence elected officials on their sites.At the time of the suspension, Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said “the risks of allowing the President to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great.” The company later referred the case to its recently-established board, which includes academics, lawyers and rights activists.The binding verdict means Trump will not for now be able to return to Facebook’s platforms, where he had a combined 59 million followers across Facebook and Instagram, His campaign spent about $160 million on Facebook ads in 2020, according to Democratic digital firm Bully Pulpit Interactive’s campaign tracker.On Tuesday, Trump launched a new web page to share messages that readers can then re-post to their Facebook or Twitter accounts. A senior adviser has said Trump also plans to launch his own social media platform.Wednesday’s decision marks a milestone for the oversight board, which Facebook financed with $130 million. The body has been hailed as a novel experiment by some researchers but criticized by those who have been skeptical about its independence or view it as a PR stunt to deflect attention from the company’s more systemic problems.”This verdict is a desperate attempt to have it both ways, upholding the ‘ban’ of Donald Trump without actually banning him, while punting any real decisions back to Facebook,” said a group of academics, experts and Facebook critics known as the “Real Facebook Oversight Board.”(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)