Former President Donald Trump remains suspended from Facebook and Instagram, for now.
On Wednesday, Facebook’s Oversight Board upheld the social network’s suspension of Trump, but urged the company to review his case in six months, which could clear the way for a return to the platform.
Reaction appears mixed on social media platforms like Twitter, where the topic #TrumpBanned and #deleteFacebook were trending Wednesday, with supporters and critics of Facebook’s ban speaking out about the ruling.
“Free speech does not include inciting an insurrection against the government,” said a Twitter user who goes by the handle @jodi0406.
Others expressed concerns about the impact of social media bans on freedom of speech.
“When they start coming for you and when your speech becomes toxic to them what will you do,” asked a Twitter user who goes by the handle @Wutaaij.
In a statement, NAACP National President Derrick Johnson applauded the Oversight Board’s decision to keep Trump’s suspension intact.
“Donald Trump is one of the single greatest threats to democracy in modern history,” Johnson said. “The hatred and misinformation the former president propagated, which incited the Capitol insurrection, has no place in America, let alone on a platform with billions of users.”
Trump released a statement via email Wednesday, calling his bans on Facebook, Twitter and Google-owned YouTube a “disgrace.”
“These corrupt social media companies must pay a political price, and must never again be allowed to destroy and decimate our Electoral Process,” he wrote.
The decision to cement a permanent ban on Trump’s accounts has pushed critics to question whether Facebook needs greater outside oversight.
U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., said in a statement on Twitter that regardless of how the Oversight Board ruled, Facebook and other social media platforms will find ways to highlight divisive content to reap revenue.
“Every day, Facebook is amplifying and promoting disinformation and misinformation, and the structure and rules governing its oversight board generally seem to ignore this disturbing reality,” Pallone said. “It’s clear that real accountability will only come with legislative action.”
Nina Jankowicz, a Disinformation Fellow with the Science And Technology Innovation Program at the Wilson Center, said in a statement that the decision “underlines the need for an independent, government regulatory body to provide oversight of and transparency within social media.”
“Ultimately, the Oversight Board is still a body that was created and paid for by Facebook,” she said.
In an emailed statement, Aram Sinnreich, professor and chair at the School of Communication at American University, said the board essentially punted on whether to make Trump’s suspension permanent.
“They didn’t clarify their policy or strengthen enforcement of it, they merely pushed the decision about whether to tolerate hate speech and disinformation from powerful individuals to a later date, when the threat of the January 6 coup attempt is further back in our collective memories,” Sinnreich said.
Conservative critics of the platform blasted the decision, claiming the company stifles free speech. On Twitter, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz called the Oversight Board’s decision “disgraceful.”
GOP House Leader Kevin McCarthy also criticized the board’s ruling.
“If they can ban President Trump, all conservative voices could be next,” he said.
In a statement emailed to USA TODAY, Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., called the decision disappointing.
“It’s clear that Mark Zuckerberg views himself as the arbiter of free speech,” she said.