Trump's Indefinite Facebook Suspension Could Be Lifted By May

Former President Donald Trump could be making a return to Facebook and thousands of people will have the chance to weigh in on whether his indefinite suspension should be lifted.

Trump harnessed the power of social media in a way few other politicians have but he had his direct source to the public cut off in January after the Capitol riot. Banned from Twitter for life, the former president has the chance to appeal to Facebook to allow him back on the platform and the social media company's Oversight Board has taken up the case.

Helle Thorning-Schmidt, the co-chair of Facebook's Oversight Board, told Britain's Channel 4 News on Tuesday, they decided to take Trump's case. The case is a textbook example of why the board was created because many people are interested in it and it's "very principled," according to Thorning-Schmidt.

The Oversight Board has 90 days to resolve a case and with about two and a half months left on the timeline, Trump could return to Facebook in May if the board rules in his favor. However, a decision could come before May, as Thorning-Schmidt said they're trying to complete the Trump case "a little bit faster."

Newsweek reached out to former President Donald Trump for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.

donald trump facebook suspension board review
Facebook's independent Oversight Board is reviewing the social media company's decision to suspend former President Donald Trump indefinitely and if they reverse the decision, he could be allowed back by May. Trump boards Air Force One before departing Harlingen, Texas, on January 12. Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty

Facebook locked Trump's account on January 6 after a mob breached Capitol security as Congress convened to certify President Joe Biden's Electoral College victory because he was found to be contributing to the ongoing violence. The 24-hour suspension turned into an indefinite one the next day when CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the "risks" of Trump being on the platform were "too great" because he was using the platform to "undermine the peaceful and lawful transition of power to his elected successor."

The suspension was set to be in place until at least January 21, the day of Biden's inauguration, at which point, Nick Clegg, Facebook's vice president of global affairs, said the decision was taken in "extraordinary circumstances."

"A U.S. president actively fomenting a violent insurrection designed to thwart the peaceful transition of power; five people killed; legislators fleeing the seat of democracy," Clegg said in a January 21 statement. "It was an unprecedented set of events which called for unprecedented action."

With Biden now in office, Facebook referred the decision to suspend Trump to the Oversight Board for review. Individuals whose cases are taken up for review by the board have the opportunity to submit an explanation of their position and on Tuesday, the board confirmed it received a user statement concerning the former president's Facebook and Instagram accounts.

Along with hearing from Facebook and the user, the board's process includes potentially enlisting the help of experts and hearing from the public. Thorning-Schmidt said the board has received "thousands" of public comments and will incorporate them into the decision-making process.

"Once we have decided this we will put out what the user said, what Facebook said, and why we reached the decision that we did," Thorning-Schmidt told Channel 4 News.

Once the board makes a determination to either uphold Trump's indefinite suspension or reverse the social media company's decision, it's binding and Facebook will be required to implement it.