Facebook’s Oversight Board, dubbed its Supreme court has upheld the social network’s ban of former President Donald Trump.
The much expected decision comes a day after Trump launched a website, with which he hopes to communicate with his followers.
The oversight board however slammed the company for make the suspension indefinite.
It 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.”
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.”
A board spokesman told Reuters the decision had not been shared with Trump’s team in advance of the announcement
The board’s much-awaited 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.
But it said Facebook inappropriately imposed a suspension without clear standards and that the company should determine a response consistent with rules applied to other users of the platform.
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 its decision, the board said Facebook refused to answer some of the 46 questions it posed, including those on how its news feed and other features 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 around 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 indefinitely blocked Trump’s access to his Facebook and Instagram accounts over concerns of further violent unrest following the Jan. 6 riot.
It was one of a slew of social media sites that barred the former president, including Twitter Inc , which banned him permanently.
“We will now consider the board’s decision and determine an action that is clear and proportionate,” Nick Clegg, Facebook vice president of global affairs and communication, said in a blog entry following the decision.
“In the meantime, Mr. Trump’s accounts remain suspended,” Clegg said.