WASHINGTON (March 10, 2021)—Last month, R Street’s technology and cybersecurity experts submitted comments to the Facebook Oversight Board analyzing Facebook’s decision to ban former President Donald Trump from their platform. As additional social media platforms consider taking similar steps, our experts take a deeper dive into the content moderation debate in a new paper.

R Street’s Paul Rosenzweig, Chris Riley, Mary Brooks and Tatyana Bolton argue that Facebook was right to take down President Trump’s content and should probably make the ban permanent. Their assessment is based on a number of considerations, including the harm, intent and imminence of the content in question.

“Facebook, the Board and social media platforms more broadly are at an inflection point. The decisions they make now may define the future of digital platform-based communication, with real outcomes for the security and integrity of the internet and those who use it. This white paper suggests how these decisions can be made with recourse to external law and principles, rather than in an ad hoc manner,” said Rosenzweig, Riley, Brooks and Bolton.

Ultimately, while the authors find that the Oversight Board is a fascinating effort at creating an independent, corporate self-review function, the Trump case will be the first major test of the concept.

Read the full paper here.