Facebook’s very own independent content oversight board has testified about the social media behemoth’s content moderation shortcomings!
Michael McConnel, the Co-Chairman of the panel, followed by the body’s decision to indefinitely ban former President Donald Trump, said that Facebook’s rules are a ‘shambles‘ and there is no transparency, nor any consistency.
McConnel, on ‘Fox News Sunday’ said that the independent body gave a series of recommendations to Facebook on making the rules clearer. And now it is being anticipated that the company will take the new few months to implement and apply the same in a straightforward way.
The social media behemoth suspended Trump’s account after he encouraged his loyal supporters to storm the Capitol, an event which became a deadly attempt to overturn the counting of the Electoral College votes in favour of Joe Biden. The ban was originally only a temporary measure, but its status was turned to indefinite on the following day.
According to McConnell, Trump’s posts were ‘a plain violation of Facebook’s rules’, which state that one must not praise dangerous individuals and organisations during a time of violence. During the riot on January 6th, even though Trump’s statements seemed like he was asking for peace, he was mostly egging them on to continue.
After Facebook went on and banned the former President, members from both parties in the U.S Congress called for breaking up large tech companies by arguing that they are exercising monopolistic powers on the marketplace by censoring voices and holding back innovations.
But McConnel, a constitutional law professor at Stanford University and a former federal judge, dismissed the concerns about Facebook violating Trump’s First Amendment rights by leaving the ban in place by stating that the social media giant is a private company.
McConnel said that Facebook is not a government-owned entity, making Trump a customer and not a citizen of Facebook. But that being said, he mentioned that the lack of consistency and transparency around Facebook’s content moderation rules do contribute to questions about unfairness and biases.
The Co-Chairman of Facebook’s Independent Content Oversight Board said that fairness and consistency are the bedrocks of freedom of expression rules. Therefore, if Facebook simply let Trump off the hook, then it wouldn’t exactly be called ‘equal treatment’ as he is subjected to the same rules all other users of the platform operate under.
McConnel dismissed the concerns from Senator Hawley and others who have remarked that the oversight board members are simply ‘toadies’ for the social media against as Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, appointed them.
For long Facebook has been facing criticism over its content moderation policies. In many other countries, such as India and Myanmar, the social media giant faced the heat for making moves against certain content that people felt was a biased approach to favour certain parties.
It now remains to be seen when and how Facebook plans to make amends in the content moderation and oversight policies. We will keep you updated on all future developments. Until then, stay tuned.