Facebook Oversight Board upholds Trump ban
Former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows calls out double standard after the Facebook Oversight Board upheld the social media platform’s ban on former President Trump.
The decision of the Facebook board to uphold the decision to ban former President Donald Trump but reconsider his lifetime ban may seem transparently convenient for many. However, there is precedent.
One of my favorite trial accounts is from Ireland, where an Englishman accused an Irishman of stealing a pair of boots. The guilt of the defendant was absolutely clear but the Irish jury could not get itself to rule for the Englishman. Instead, it acquitted the Irishman but added a line, “We do believe O’Brien should give the Englishman back his boots.” Case closed.
Few people thought that, after expanding the censorship of political figures like Trump for years, Facebook could ever summon the courage to declare itself wrong in the ban first imposed on Jan. 7, 2021. Instead, the board ruled that it was absolutely right to suspend Trump but it may want to reconsider the permanent ban given the absence of any objective standard to support it. So Trump will still get the boot for now.
It may be too harsh to expect anything more from a board that literally monitors one of the world’s largest censorship programs.
Facebook, Twitter and other companies now openly engage in what they like to euphemistically call “content modification.” The decision reflects the convoluted logic of censor’s free speech review board. The company – and the board – start from the assumption that it can and should censor views deemed “misinformation” or dangerous. The starting position therefore is that censorship is justified and that content neutrality is dangerous.
For free speech advocates, it is like going from a rolling ocean of free speech to a swimming pool of controlled content.
In the end, Facebook’s board could not go as far as the Irish jury to say that the company should give Trump back his boots but rather it “might want to consider” giving him back his boots. In the world of corporate censors, that is considered a principled stand.
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