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NPR Rachel Martin tells Kate Chronic at St. John’s University whether Facebook’s supervisory board will allow former President Donald Trump to return to social media platforms.

Rachel Martin, Host:

Tomorrow, Facebook’s independent supervisory board will announce the biggest decision ever. It will support or reverse Facebook’s indefinite ban on former President Donald Trump. The decision to ban Trump was made after the January 6 attack on the US Capitol. Nick Clegg, Facebook’s Vice President of Global Affairs and Communications, told NPR in January:

(Archive NPR broadcast sound bite)

NICK CLEGG: We believe we have made the right decision. I think it was completely justified by the unprecedented situation of the day.

Martin: The board’s ruling is expected to set a precedent for how Facebook will handle accounts of other world leaders and politicians in the future. So how much does a private platform need to manage freedom of speech? Please note that Facebook is one of NPR’s financial backers. I have Kate Chronic. She is an assistant professor at St. John’s University in New York and writes about the creation of Facebook’s supervisory board. Kate, thank you for being here.

KATE KLONICK: Thank you.

MARTIN: An independent supervisory board. It was created by this $ 130 million investment from Facebook. Who is on the board? How much weight did the board decision have?

KLONICK: Yes, the board currently consists of 20 people. They are broad experts in freedom of expression and international human rights. And they’re really a kind of blue ribbon panel, with everyone from the former Danish Prime Minister to the former Editor-in-Chief of the Guardian, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate, and the former Circuit Court judge.

Martin: But this decision is a non-binding recommendation made by the board, isn’t it?

KLONICK: Well, in fact, the decision-Facebook agreed to be bound by the decision. It’s binding on Facebook. However, it is likely to make other recommendations to Facebook and they will not be binding.

Martin: So the board has reviewed only a handful of cases so far, overturning four of the five Facebook decisions. What do those decisions tell you, if any, about the potential board decisions in the Trump case?

KLONICK: Yeah, that’s a great question. That’s almost all we have to do about what will be decided tomorrow by Trump’s suspension. So far, we know that the board emphasizes the proportion of the law, that is, the ratio of the type of underlying crime to the punishment from Facebook and censorship. And we know that they care a lot about international human rights law, freedom of expression, but how it affects when there are special circumstances like them. I don’t know. Reprocessing in the Trump case.

Martin: Are you choosing to revive or maintain the ban? Or the board has the option of returning Trump to Facebook, but are there any restrictions?

KLONICK: Yeah, that’s a really interesting question. We don’t know. I know it’s not a very satisfying answer, like. But basically, the board is setting the tone here about what they will do in the future-how much power they have, how much power they don’t have, they Whether or not they go is even constrained by how the question was raised to them on Facebook. And Facebook spent just $ 130 million and a year and a half, two years building this board to deal with such questions independently, reliably and transparently. It’s going to be a kind of very-it’s going to be a very difficult position they’ll enter.

Martin: How will tomorrow’s decision set some precedent that other social media platforms will follow?

Chronic: Yeah, to be honest, I think that’s the most interesting thing. That’s because Twitter, who also decided to remove Trump from the platform, and Jack Dorsey are saying they’ll be permanently stopped. You stop Facebook indefinitely and send it to the board of directors. But Twitter obviously doesn’t have anything like a watchdog. They went another way. They are working on Birdwatch and other types of API changes to the platform to address content moderation issues. And it would be very interesting to see if Twitter basically uses this as a distinction from Facebook in the market and basically decides to sell-for example, we have him. Do not return to our platform or we will return him on our platform; not like Facebook.

Martin: Can you put you on the spot? So you spent a lot of time investigating Facebook and the Supervisory Board. What does your gut tell you about the decision?

KLONICK: I think they will revive him if everyone expects, that is, if they decide to make a up or down decision. But if they decide to get a little bigger, I think this is a very important procedural case from a legal point of view and could set a long-term tone.

Martin: I would like to talk about all this result. Kate Chronic, assistant professor of law at St. John’s University in New York. Thank you very much.

Chronic: Thank you.

(Music sound bite)

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