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Facebook Sued for $9 Billion by Internal Revenue Service After Shifting Profits for Ireland

The social media platform’s tax avoidance strategy is in trouble.

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Facebook is set to be sued for $9 billion by the Internal Revenue Service, which accuses the company of undervaluing intellectual property it transferred to Ireland in an effort to avoid compliance with American tax rules.

The IRS is accusing Facebook of significantly undervaluing the cost of intellectual property it transferred to an Irish component of its company in 2010. They’ll make their argument before a San Francisco judge later this month.

Facebook expects the litigation to be settled in a matter of weeks. It’s probable that the proceedings will end with a settlement in which the Silicon Valley social media behemoth will agree to pay a portion of the back taxes it owes as a result of the 2010 tax haven move. Leading employees of the company, including Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer, are expected to testify in the proceedings.

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Major Silicon Valley corporations regularly shift the most profitable elements of their businesses to tax havens such as Ireland and the Cayman Islands. Other companies such as Amazon and Apple utilize Ireland as a haven to considerable effect, avoiding paying billions of dollars in American taxes as they enjoy free access to the incredibly lucrative American consumer market.

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Those among conservative and libertarians who subscribe to the “Taxation is theft” meme should consider the implications of such a blanket statement. America’s wealthiest companies have no problem with taxation and public infrastructure- in fact, they’re planning on having you pick up their tab while they game the system’s rules.

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Facebook Will Create “Oversight Board” For Users to Appeal Censorship Decisions

A smidgen of accountability.

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Facebook is planning on rolling out an “oversight board” to which users of the platform can appeal the censorship of content.

Over the next few weeks, our nearly 3 billion users will have access to an independent review of difficult content decisions,” announced the company in a Thursday blog post.

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Facebook is describing the oversight board as a “global body of experts separate from Facebook that will make independent and binding decisions on the cases they choose to hear.” Facebook users will presumably have the option to appeal incidences of censorship to Facebook’s oversight board when they have exhausted use of Facebook’s existing censorship appeal process. However, the existing process is only available on a seemingly arbitrary basis, and it’s probably not unlikely that those who already aren’t in Facebook’s good graces won’t be allowed the opportunity to appeal to the oversight board.

The overseers are employed and selected by Facebook itself, casting serious doubt as to whether they’re genuinely impartial arbiters of social media censorship.

It’s hard to tell if this is a step in the right direction or merely a ruse for the monopoly to counter accusations that its arbitrary censorship process is undemocratic and authoritarian. In predictable fashion, the powerful Oversight Board is staffed almost exclusively with Soros-linked neoliberal progressives, some of whom have already advocated for a European understanding of “free speech” as opposed to an American one.

With great power comes great responsibility, and Facebook seems content to accept the former without the latter. It simply isn’t their place to declare what is permissible political speech.

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