June 21, 2021

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Facebook declined to answer some of its own oversight board’s questions in Trump case

2 min read

In announcing its decision to uphold former President Donald Trump’s suspension, Facebook’s Oversight Board also revealed it was unable to get full answers from the company on multiple questions in the case.

The Oversight Board, a body established by Facebook to which content moderation decisions can be referred, on Wednesday announced it upheld Trump’s suspension from the platform, while also calling on Facebook to review the suspension. In the decision, though, the board also said that as part of the case, it “asked Facebook 46 questions, and Facebook declined to answer seven entirely, and two partially.”

These questions Facebook declined to answer, according to the Oversight Board, included “questions about how Facebook’s news feed and other features impacted the visibility of Mr. Trump’s content.” The board also said it asked questions regarding “the suspension of other political figures” and whether Facebook had been “contacted by political officeholders or their staff about” Trump’s suspension, among other inquiries.

According to the board, Facebook said the information it was asking for either wasn’t “reasonably required” to make the decision about Trump’s account, wasn’t “technically feasible to provide,” was covered by attorney client privilege, or couldn’t be provided due to “legal, privacy, safety, or data protection concerns.”

Reporter Craig Silverman flagged this as the most “Facebooky” detail from the announcement, writing, that Facebook “creates and funds the board, supposedly gives it power, and refuses to answer its questions. Classic.” Brendan Morrow

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