Associate Dean Enrique Armijo, an expert on the intersection of technology and free speech, explains the implications of an oversight board's recent decision that Facebook can not "indefinitely" suspend the former American president from its platforms.
Facebook was within its rights to suspend President Donald Trump following the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, according to an oversight board created to moderate content disputes on the social media behemoth, but it could not do so “indefinitely.”
Either share with the former president when he may be reinstated, the oversight board decided based on existing Facebook rules, or tell him he’s permanently banned.
And while Elon Law Associate Dean Enrique Armijo explained the nuances of the decision in a recent column for Bloomberg Law, the decision isn’t without possible ramifications for the future of free speech and, in particular, how misinformation may be permitted or removed.
“Trump, the Facebook Ban, and Who Decides” was published online on May 14, 2021.
“Policing speech in the absence of procedure and transparency is deeply problematic,” Armijo concludes. “But giving Covid-19 deniers, insurrectionists, and inciters of violence the right to disseminate disinformation on social media unless the platforms hosting them can show their speech has caused an identifiable and immediate harm to another person can come at the expense of the truth.”
Armijo is an Affiliate Fellow of the Yale Law School Information Society Project and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill Center for Information, Technology, and Public Life. He teaches and researches in the areas of the First Amendment, constitutional law, torts, administrative law, media and internet law, and international freedom of expression.
His current scholarship addresses the interaction between new technologies and free speech.