Facebook inadvertently seized Trump’s biggest social media megaphone several months ago, but the former president may be poised to snatch it back.
Facebook’s oversight board, a policy decision-making group similar to the external Supreme Court, will either reinstate Trump’s Facebook privileges or make him disappear forever on Wednesday. Whatever it is, this is a big moment for the nascent use of Facebook to outsource hard content moderation calls to an elite group of global thinkers, academics and political figures and allows them to set examples that will come Can shape the world’s largest social network for years.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced Trump’s suspension from Facebook soon after the Capitol attack. It was initially a temporary suspension, but two weeks later Facebook said the decision would be forwarded to the oversight board. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in January, “We believe the risks of allowing the president to use our service during this period are very high.”
Facebook’s VP of Global Affairs, former British politician Nick Clegg, hoped the board would withdraw its findings from the company, calling Trump’s suspension “an unprecedented move for unprecedented events”.
Trump inflamed tensions and incited violence on 6 January, but the incident was not without precedent. After the assassination of George Floyd, an unarmed black man murdered by the Minneapolis police, President Trump announced on social media “when looting begins, shooting begins”, “an imminent for racist violence The threat of violence that Facebook refused to take. Action against promoting internal protests against the company.
The former president did or crossed the line with Facebook at some point in his four-year term, but the stage stood stoically behind a maxim that all speeches were good speeches, even other social networks Grew wider.
In a dramatic address in late 2019, Zuckerberg removed Martin Luther King Jr. as he defended anything Facebook said. “In times of social upheaval, our impulse often pulls back on free expression,” Zuckerberg said. “We want progress to come from free expression, but not from stress.” The king’s daughter objected strongly.
A year later, Zuckerberg would back down from his grand speech announcements, with all of Facebook’s peers alike and Trump leaving office.
Well into 2019 and 2020, Facebook was still full of misinformation, conspiracies, and a rhetoric of extremism. The social network hosted thousands of armed militias organized for violence and a sea of content raising Qiyeon, which turned from marginalized faith into a mainstream political phenomenon via Facebook.
The same forces would converge on January 6 for a day of violence in the US Capitol, which Facebook officials instinctively stated, even though it had been going on the stage openly for months.
How Overseas Board Works
Facebook’s Oversight Board began reviewing its first cases last October. Facebook may refer cases to the board, such as it did with Trump, but users can appeal to the board to overturn the policy decision after ending the usual Facebook or Instagram appeal process. Five members out of its total of 20 members evaluate the subcommittee as to whether the material should be allowed to remain on the platform and then arrive at a decision that should be approved by the full board with a majority. Initially, the Oversight Board only had the right to reestablish deleted content on Facebook and Instagram, but requests began to be reviewed in mid-April to review controversial content.
Last month, the Oversight Board replaced late member Pamela Carlan, Stanford professor and Trump’s voting rights scholar, who quit joining the Biden administration. Carlen’s replacement, PEN America CEO Susan Nossel, wrote an op-ed in the LA Times in late January stating that a permanent ban on Trump “may look good” but that the decision would eventually set a dangerous precedent. Nossal came too late on the board to participate in Trump’s decision.
The first batch of the Oversight Board’s decision leaned towards restoring the material, which has been removed – not preventing its removal. While other decisions across the board are likely to touch on the full spectrum of frustration with Facebook’s content moderation preferences, they come with far less baggage than Trump’s decision. In one example, the Oversight Board voted to restore the image of a woman’s nipples used in reference to a breast cancer post. In another, the board decided that a quote from a famous Nazi did not remove the qualification because it was not an endorsement of Nazi ideology. In all cases, the Overseas Board can issue policy recommendations, but Facebook is not obligated to implement them – just decisions.
According to its DNA of global activists, political personalities and academics, the oversight board’s ambition may well extend beyond a social network. Earlier this year, Healing Thoring-Schmidt, co-chairman of the Board of Overseas and former Prime Minister of Denmark, announced that other social media companies would have to be “welcomed” to join the project, which in a coherent Facebook- Is branded in a lesser way. (The group calls itself the “Oversight Board”, although everyone calls it the “Facebook Oversight Board”.)
“For the first time in history, we have content moderation outside one of the really big social media platforms,” Thoring-Schmidt declared, grandly. “That in itself … I don’t hesitate to call it historical.”
Facebook’s decision to outsource some key policy decisions is indeed an experimental one, but the experiment is just beginning. Trump’s case will provide an opportunity to send a message to Facebook’s mini-court, although what a road it is, it is so powerful that it would take a world leader to strike out with his parents and overturn the decision of the biggest social media policy Is free enough. remains to be seen.
If Trump returns, the company could shrug its shoulders and shake off another PR firestorm, content that its use in external content moderation is legitimate. If the board doubles down on deporting Trump, Facebook will take comfort in knowing that someone else may shock this disputed content call so far. For Facebook, for once, it is a win-win situation.