Facebook wanted its $130 million 'Supreme Court' to solve its policy enforcement problems. The board's decision to punt on Trump's ban shows how the initiative has backfired.
- It turned to the group in the case of Trump's suspension, but the board rejected part of its request.
- That leaves Facebook on its own when it comes to creating and enforcing rules.
Facebook's "Supreme Court" sent a strong message to the company on Wednesday: Do your own work.It was likely a far cry from what the
On Wednesday, the board announced its decision on a high-profile case involving the January suspension of former President Donald Trump. And instead of making the decision for Facebook, as the company asked it to do, the board punted the case back to Facebook.The incident shows how Facebook's creation, intended to assuage the public's concern that the platform wasn't policing content well enough, has backfired. The company finds itself right back to where it started: tasked with solving its own problems.
It's on Facebook to solve its long-standing content moderation dilemmas
Facebook's Oversight Board may have launched recently, but the reason for its inception stretches far back.Facebook, like other
One such action was in January when Facebook said it would remove all content that referenced the "Stop the Steal" campaign, which had been peddling the unfounded claims that the election was stolen from Trump. Many of the extremists who breached the Capitol building were supporters of it.
But a more monumental move was Facebook suspending Trump indefinitely on January 7, just after his supporters stormed the US Capitol to interfere with the 2020 presidential election certification.Thousands of extremists breached the federal building, leading to five people dying, including a US Capitol officer, with countless others injured. Since the violent siege, 453 people have been charged.
Trump's suspension added fuel to the fire for Republicans who believe that tech platforms are hell-bent on silencing conservative voices, though research shows right-wing content flourishes online. And a report from a group of NYU researchers found that claims of anti-conservative bias are not only false, but are a form of disinformation."The contention that social media as an industry censors conservatives is now, as we speak, becoming part of an even broader disinformation campaign from the right, that conservatives are being silenced all across American society," Paul Barrett, the study's lead researcher and the deputy director of the NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights, told The Verge.
Because according to the Oversight Board, Facebook's crackdown on Trump may have been warranted but the indefinite suspension was still a "vague, standardless penalty," given that its normal penalties include permanent account shutdowns, post removals, and "a time-bound period of suspension.""We're not here to invent new rules for Facebook," Thorning-Schmidt told Axios on Thursday, adding that it was "lazy" of Facebook to make the board decide the suspension's duration.
The board instructed Facebook to review its response and come back with a decision in six months.The events of this week show that Facebook may truly be on its own when combatting the monster that is creating - and enforcing - appropriate content moderation policies.
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