May 5, 2021

" It is not permissible for Facebook to keep a user off the platform for an undefined period, with no criteria for when or whether the account will be restored...."

"In applying a vague, standardless penalty and then referring this case to the Board to resolve, Facebook seeks to avoid its responsibilities. The Board declines Facebook’s request and insists that Facebook apply and justify a defined penalty.... Within six months of this decision, Facebook must reexamine the arbitrary penalty it imposed on January 7 and decide the appropriate penalty. This penalty must be based on the gravity of the violation and the prospect of future harm. It must also be consistent with Facebook’s rules for severe violations, which must, in turn, be clear, necessary and proportionate." 

From the full text of the Facebook Oversight Board's opinion.

FROM THE EMAIL: Gregory Ogden writes: 

The excerpt that you posted on your blog is very similar to the language that would be used by an appellate court reviewing the decision of an administrative agency under the arbitrary and capricious standard of review that is recognised in the Federal APA, 5 USC Section 706(2)(A). While courts give broad discretion to agency penalty determinations, those determinations are in the context of specific adjudicatory decisions by that agency under the federal APA. This may be too much law professor inside baseball but it seems to me that this board is using some of the rhetoric that courts will use in APA contexts. This could be a good thing if you accept the premise that .tech companies have the right to censor political speech. I don't accept that premise because it goes against american values and prevents robust debate.

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