Last week the legally embattled Southern Poverty Law Center took credit for Facebook and Instagram’s decision to ban Paul Joseph Watson, Milo Yiannopoulos, Laura Loomer, and any link or video featuring Alex Jones, and in a statement to Big League Politics Facebook would not deny that the SPLC held power over its decision.
The SPLC claimed last week that they put Facebook “under pressure” to ban the “dangerous” individuals from Facebook and Instagram, and heralded the move as “an important step for Facebook.”
In its article, the SPLC concluded that the organization “will continue to monitor how Facebook is enforcing its policies related to extremist content.”
Facebook replied to a request for a comment from Big League Politics, with a spokesperson writing in their statement that the company chooses to “speak with numerous organizations across the political spectrum to inform our policies,” and added that they use these conversations to “write and enforce our own policies” which they say are public knowledge.
In all of the statements Big League Politics received from Facebook, they have refused to acknowledge an official relationship with the SPLC, and have also refused to disavow them.
The company’s vague response to our request for comment shines a light on the possible overlap between the SPLC’s list of “hate figures,” which Facebook claims it does not map to, and the company’s policies.
Additionally, Facebook’s refusal to explicitly condemn the SPLC may represent a de facto endorsement of the group’s culture of misogyny and racism, which led to the termination or resignation of multiple high level SPLC employees in the wake of a lawsuit launched by conservative writer and media personality Gavin McInnes.
McInnes is suing the SPLC after they designated him and the Proud Boys, which he founded and later stepped down from, “hate figures” and “hate groups”, which many believe led to the group and its prominent members being banned from most social media and financial systems including PayPal and Chase Bank.
Facebook Will Create “Oversight Board” For Users to Appeal Censorship Decisions
A smidgen of accountability.
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.
Oversight Board to Start Hearing Cases https://t.co/AAaa2nPmsF
— Facebook Newsroom (@fbnewsroom) October 22, 2020
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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