Meta will not suspend Cambodia’s former Prime Minister from Facebook and Instagram, declining to follow a recommendation from its Oversight Board. The board, which functions independently from the social media company, had recommended Meta suspend then-Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Facebook and Instagram accounts for six months for inciting violence.
In a response to the case published Wednesday, Meta said a long-term suspension “would not be consistent” with its policies. “Upon assessing Hun Sen’s Facebook Page and Instagram account, we determined that suspending those accounts outside our regular enforcement framework would not be consistent with our policies, including our protocol on restricting accounts of public figures during civil unrest,” the company wrote.
Meta’s handling of the high-profile case has been closely watched around the world, with many viewing it as a test of the company’s policies governing speech from politicians, who have historically had more leeway on the platform. In a statement, an Oversight Board spokesperson said the group “stands by” its recommendations, “Elections are a crucial part of democracy and social media companies must ensure their platforms are not misused in ways which threaten to undermine them. The Board stands by its original decision and urges Meta to do everything in its power to deter public figures who exploit its platforms to incite violence.”
The company had originally asked the Oversight Board to weigh in on a video posted by Sen. The video was of a speech in which Sen told political opponents he’d “gather CPP (Cambodia People’s Party) people to protest and beat you up.” Meta had opted to leave up the video, citing its controversial newsworthiness policy, despite concluding it had violated the company’s own rules.