The Facebook Oversight Board upheld Facebook’s decision to suspend former President Donald Trump’s Facebook account. The Board also chastised Facebook for assessing a “vague, standardless penalty.” The ruling confirmed the Media Research Center’s assessment that Facebook’s transparency is abysmal.
While the Oversight Board said Facebook was justified in suspending Trump’s account over the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, it didn’t agree with the indefinite nature of the penalty. The Oversight Board attacked Facebook’s lack of transparency and noted how it could appear biased. The Board also encouraged Facebook to engage in more censorship, specifically by finding new ways to limit the amplification of certain speech rather than banning it.
In the Oversight Board’s full decision regarding the Trump suspension, it didn’t defer to the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, because it doesn’t apply to private businesses. However, the Board said it did defer to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), a global agreement that isn’t binding on private businesses.
The Board noted that Facebook announced its commitment to adhere to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) on March 16, 2021. According to the Board, the UNGPs “establish a voluntary framework for the human rights responsibilities of private businesses.” It further noted that by committing to the principles, “Facebook must respect international human rights standards wherever it operates.”
The Board indicated that it used UN rules to decide Trump’s case, even though the case was instigated on Jan. 6, more than two months before Facebook’s commitment to the principles.
The decision criticized Facebook’s lack of transparency in assessing penalties, stating that it “appears to contribute to perceptions that the company may be unduly influenced by political or commercial considerations.” The Board then gave specific direction for how Facebook can become more transparent. The Media Research Center also called out Facebook’s problematic communication regarding enforcement actions, earning the platform an ‘F’ in User Transparency for the first quarter of 2021.
The Board made a seemingly helpful suggestion that,
“Facebook should use less restrictive measures to address potentially harmful speech and protect the rights of others before resorting to content removal and account restriction.”
However, it then made the case for more censorship, saying that Facebook should develop
“effective mechanisms to avoid amplifying speech that poses risks of imminent violence, discrimination, or other lawless action, where possible and proportionate, rather than banning the speech outright.”
While limiting reach would be preferable to banning speech, it is still censorship and does not support freedom of speech, one of the basic foundations of America. This is unsurprising, given the radical views and international makeup of the Board.
Conservatives are under attack. Contact the Facebook Oversight Board on Twitter or Facebook and demand that Big Tech be held to account to provide clarity on “hate speech” and to mirror the First Amendment.. If you have been censored, contact us at the Media Research Center contact form, and help us hold Big Tech accountable.