James CrumpFri, 12 February 2021, 6:02 pm
Former President Donald Trump reportedly called Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to complain about a “deeply offensive” member of the social media platform’s Oversight Board, which is preparing to rule over his suspension.
The former president was banned from Facebook, along with Twitter and other social media platforms, following the Capitol riots on 6 January that he incited at a “Save America” rally outside of the White House.
Five people died and several more were injured as a mob of pro-Trump supporters breached the US Capitol on that day. A week later, and a week before leaving office, Mr Trump was impeached by the House.
Facebook’s Oversight Board, which is a group of 20 legal and human rights experts that can overrule Mr Zuckerberg on who is removed from the site, will soon determine whether Mr Trump’s suspension should stand.
After the members of the oversight board were announced in May 2020 and before a case was open against him, Mr Trump reportedly personally called Mr Zuckerberg to complain about the inclusion of Stanford Law professor Pamela Karlan, who testified against him in his first impeachment trial in 2020.
“He used Pam as an example of how the board was this deeply offensive thing to him,” a person familiar with the situation told The New Yorker on Friday.
“Zuckerberg listened, and then told Trump that the members had been chosen based on their qualifications,” the source added, confirming: “Despite the pressure from Trump, Facebook did not change the composition of the board.”
Mr Trump was not the only one angered by the members chosen, as conservative groups complained that it was too liberal and attempted to make it more sympathetic towards the former president.
“The idea was, either fill this board with Trump-supporting conservatives or kill it,” a source told The New Yorker.
Neither Mr Trump or the conservative groups were able to influence the board, which will make its decision on his suspension before April.
His case has proven controversial, and Politico reported on Thursday that the board has received around 9,000 comments about Mr Trump’s suspension.
This figure is nearly 100 times the amount the board has received for all of its first five cases combined, after making its rulings last month.
Facebook spokesperson Dex Hunter-Torricke told Politico that the group had only received around 100 comments in total for those cases, adding: “This is an order of magnitude greater. There are all sorts of actors and ordinary folks who said this is something that I care about.”
Friday is the last day that anyone can submit a comment about Mr Trump’s suspension before entries will be closed for the board to make a decision on whether he can use the platform again.
Of the first five cases it has ruled on, the board has upheld one decision and overturned the other four. There is no indication yet on whether Mr Trump’s suspension will be made permanent.