By Max Rust 

Facebook Inc. established an oversight board in 2019 to review content-moderation decisions and recommend policies. The independent board is funded through an endowment, and its rulings on community standards are binding.

The board operates like a Supreme Court for content. The social-media company can refer cases, or individual users can submit petitions for the board to consider. The board considers whether Facebook erred in removing content or accounts from its platforms or left intact content that should have been taken down under company rules.

The social-media giant referred its decision about suspending former President Donald Trump's accounts to the board in January, and on Wednesday the board upheld the ban. Yet it also said Facebook didn't follow clear procedures in its actions, and gave the company six months to review its suspension of Mr. Trump. The oversight board made its first rulings earlier this year and showed a willingness to overturn the company's past content-moderation decisions.

How the Oversight Board Operates

Who the board members are

A quarter of the 20 members are based in the U.S., and the rest are located in different countries across five continents. The group consists of law professors, human-rights advocates, journalists and other professionals with backgrounds in areas ranging from constitutional law to technology regulation. Facebook has said that the board could expand to as many as 40 members in the future. Members have three-year terms and may serve a maximum of three terms.

How the board has decided

In most cases the board has ruled on, it has overturned Facebook's decision to remove content. Mr. Trump's accounts were suspended from Facebook and Instagram platforms following the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob. Facebook has said it found that two posts by the then-president violated the company's rules against praise and support for the riot at the Capitol.

Write to Max Rust at


(END) Dow Jones Newswires

May 05, 2021 13:36 ET (17:36 GMT)

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