Back to you, Zuck. Facebook’s oversight board earlier today declined to act as a human shield for the social network. Asked to rule on the suspension of Donald Trump’s account in the wake of the January 6 Capitol riot, it passed the ultimate decision back to Facebook.
For now, Trump’s suspension stays in place. But the board has given Facebook six months to “reexamine the arbitrary penalty it imposed on January 7 and decide the appropriate penalty.” No hiding behind the judgment of outsiders when Republican politicians complain about “anti-conservative bias,” or when other world leaders such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel worry about the precedent of a corporation pulling the plug on an elected politician—Facebook will have to tell us what its own red lines are.
The oversight board has been called Facebook’s “Supreme Court,” and the sad fact is that its judgments matter far more than those of the highest courts in many sovereign nations. Yet the board also tacitly acknowledged today that it is a Potemkin court—nothing more than an advisory service to a company that doesn’t have to take any notice of anything it says. It can try to solve Facebook’s problems, but it can’t solve the problem of Facebook. [Continue reading…]