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After Trump Ban, Facebook Oversight Panel Pushes for More Say

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Facebook Inc.’s oversight panel has won credibility for independence after ruling repeatedly against the social-media giant—most recently objecting to its decision to ban indefinitely former President Donald Trump.

But board officials and outsiders say the panel’s longer-term impact will hinge more on how Facebook follows up on all the detailed recommendations and guidance the board has issued as part of its decisions. Since it started making rulings on Facebook’s determinations about what content to allow and what to take down, the panel—a 20-member group called the Oversight Board—has decided eight times against Facebook. It backed Facebook’s decisions three times.

Those rulings are binding. But the board also issues copious guidance with each ruling, and those recommendations aren’t. The board and outside observers want Facebook to commit to follow those recommendations, too.

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“There’s a desire to learn more about how these things are implemented and to see that they are,” said John Samples, a member of the Oversight Board and vice president of the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank based in Washington, D.C.

The board has become a closely watched experiment in corporate governance for online platforms, which have long struggled with the issue of moderating content. Facebook has two billion active users a day, including heads of state and public figures known to post polarizing statements that can go viral on the platform.

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