The Meta Oversight Board circus came to town again pretending to hold Meta accountable for its out-of-control COVID-19 censorship collusion with government entities. But the board’s empty, highbrow language isn’t fooling anyone.
In its latest 42-page report, the globalist Oversight Board didn’t chide Meta for censoring what turned out to be true information about COVID-19 or curtailing Americans’ free speech.
Rather, the board scolded the platform for its lack of transparency when removing content at the behest of the government and or removing content. The board additionally suggested that the platform “reassess” but not eliminate its 80-point “Misinformation about health during public health emergencies” policy.
“It took the Oversight Board 42 pages to acknowledge that Facebook messed up and yet the recommendations are still a mess. The Oversight Board is trying to talk out of both sides of its mouth,” MRC Free Speech America Vice President Dan Schneider said. “The right answer takes only seven words to say: We will allow all constitutionally-protected speech.”
The Oversight Board criticized Meta censoring users at the request of governments but not because censorship encroaches on free speech.
“At the height of the pandemic, concerns were raised about Meta reviewing COVID-19-related content at the behest of governments,” the board wrote. “This is particularly problematic where governments make requests to crack down on peaceful protesters or human rights defenders, to control conversations about the origins of the pandemic, and to silence those criticizing or questioning government responses to the public health crisis.”
The Board’s solution? “Meta should be transparent and report regularly on state actor requests to review content.” Ah, so is government-requested censorship okay as long as Meta is transparent about it?
Meta’s Oversight Board similarly did not suggest Meta stop removing COVID-19-related content classified as “misinformation” as “the Board is not in a position to recommend a policy change that could disproportionately affect the most vulnerable.”
In fact, the Oversight Board actually admitted that it ignored Meta’s suggestion to cut back on outright removing violative COVID-19 content. Instead, the pro-censorship group recommended that the platform “Continue to remove false content about COVID-19 that is ‘likely to directly contribute to the risk of imminent physical harm during the ongoing global public health emergency,’ while beginning a transparent and inclusive review and reassessment of the 80 claims it currently removes.”
The platform should just be more transparent about why it censors, the Board argued. “The company should explain how each category of the COVID-19 claims it removes directly contributes to the risk of imminent physical harm,” the report reads. “It should also explain the basis of its assessment that a claim is false.”
The Board did however acknowledge that Meta has not significantly paired down its COVID-19 policy three years after the start of the pandemic. “Meta has not yet engaged in a due diligence process to change its policy (which is Meta's responsibility in the first instance),” the board noted. “[N]ow that we are no longer in the early stages of the crisis, to meet its human rights responsibilities, Meta should regularly assess whether the threshold for removal, set out in its policies, continues to be met.”
You think? YouTube trimmed its policy last August and Twitter abolished its COVID-19 misleading information policy after Musk took over in November. But apparently the jury is still out on whether or not Meta should be as obsessed with COVID-19 censorship.
The report noticeably does not address how past Meta censorship harmed users attempting to share information about their own experiences with COVID-19 and the COVID-19 vaccines or even how it affected news outlets that interviewed experts who disagreed with the mainstream narrative. To date, COVID-19 censorship on Meta platforms account for 335 entries in MRC Free Speech America’s unique CensorTrack database from April 2020 to March 2023.
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