Facebook oversight board swamped with comments on Trump case

Facebook’s oversight board has received some 9,000 comments on former President Donald Trump’s suspension — nearly a hundred times the submissions for its five prior cases combined, the group’s head of communications said Thursday.

The statistic highlights the massive amount of interest in the case, which will decide whether Trump’s account on one of the world’s most powerful online platforms will remain banned.

The most highly watched case in its brief history: The group, which launched late last year and issued its first rulings on content decisions made by Facebook last month, received just over 100 submissions for those five initial cases combined, spokesperson Dex Hunter-Torricke said.

“This is an order of magnitude greater,” Hunter-Torricke said of the interest from the public. He spoke during a virtual discussion held by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

The comments have come from a broad swath of groups and individuals. “There are all sorts of actors and ordinary folks who said this is something that I care about,” he said.

Pressure is building over the decision: A group of researchers and lawyers including former Facebook security chief Alex Stamos this week wrote a letter to the board arguing that Trump’s suspension was “justified” because he undermined public confidence in the 2020 election results and “encouraged violent insurrection” against the U.S. Capitol last month.

“The eventual deplatforming of Trump’s accounts helped defuse a dangerous and antidemocratic situation,” they wrote in a letter first reported by POLITICO.

What’s next: The board last week extended its deadline for submissions on Trump’s case by a week citing “high levels of interest” in it, with the window for input now open until Friday.

The board is set to rule on Trump’s case by April, but members have vowed to move more swiftly given its prominence.


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