Trump v. Facebook – BuzzMachine

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Facebook has decided to ask it’s new, independent supervisory board rule on its decision to suspend Donald Trump indefinitely. The council wants to be able to make a binding decision about Trump, telling Facebook it was right or wrong, and Facebook and Instagram will obey. Trump will be free to issue a statement to the council within two weeks.

While the question is specific to Trump, it will undoubtedly have a greater impact than other government officials – in Germany, the European Union, the UK, and the most worrying thing Poland– complain that the platforms are able to bring down the heads of state. I am equally – no more – concerned about governments who think they can or should force anyone, platforms or publishers, to give their speech.

With this move, Facebook has certainly upped the ante with its supervisory board. The first cases selected by the Council from among users and sent to them by Facebook were, well, dark . It is not surprising. All sides of this polygon wanted to test this new institution and see how it would work. But this – the Trump v. Question. Facebook – is the case with cases. Before the Council was fully operational in June, I Mark Zuckerberg urged call them on the Trump issue. I’m glad they’re doing it now.

When people on Facebook told me about this move, they said the company believed it did the right thing by taking down Trump. I agree. So why appeal to the council? Because, they said, they recognize this is a momentous decision made within a private enterprise and understand the need for greater perspective and accountability. She saidFacebook Vice President of Politics and Communications (and former UK Deputy Prime Minister) Nick Clegg:

Our decision to suspend then-President Trump’s access was made under extraordinary circumstances: a US president actively fomenting a violent insurrection designed to thwart the peaceful transition of power; five people killed; legislators fleeing the seat of democracy. It has never happened before and we hope it never happens again. It was an unprecedented series of events that required unprecedented action.

In making our decision, our first priority was to help in the peaceful transfer of power. For this reason, in announcing the suspension on January 7th, we said it would be indefinite and for at least two weeks. We refer it to the Supervisory Body now that the inauguration has taken place.

The risks are many. Facebook’s ubiquitous skeptics across the media will likely accuse them of fainting even if they’ve already made the tough decision. Governments will use whatever is said to feed their fears.

Let me feed my fears for a moment: I don’t want a society where a government can ban platforms’ ability to choose what to do and what not to bring (exactly what Poland is planning). Forced speech is not free speech! I. don’t think platforms are media – a topic for another day – but if we establish for the moment that they are similar, then you can imagine a government in a free and enlightened nation entering the office of a publisher (of The Washington Post, the Guardian, the BBC, The weather, El Pais, Le Monde, Gazeta Wyborcza) providing that the publication contains the words of an official (or, as in Italy, a fascist )? Above all, I pray that Europeans understand why this precedent in history, this idea, is dangerous.

I also fear that in seeking others – the Observatory, lawmakers or regulators – to make its own decisions, Facebook engages in regulatory acquisition. Clegg admits, “Whether you believe the decision was justified or not, many people are understandably uncomfortable with the idea that tech companies have the power to ban elected leaders. Many argue that private companies like Facebook shouldn’t take these. big decisions on their own. We agree. “Facebook Can Afford to Face Government-Throw Legal Medicine Balls; new, small entrants to the network cannot. I want to see Facebook defend freedom of expression online for everyone.

In this process, I hope Facebook decides to be as open and transparent as possible. I want to hear how they made the decision to take Trump down in the first place. I want to see the data on the impact that Trump’s incendiary and insurgent words have had on users. I want to hear that they have understood and discussed key issues. I like to think that they have listened to experts and views – especially those of academics dealing with these issues – from outside the company. I want them to be held accountable for doing just that. It is not enough for Facebook to give the SB a binary, a hot potato: Trump online? Trump offline? This is a nuanced and difficult discussion. I hope the supervisory board sees it this way and returns a decision that examines the many questions raised by the case.

Also in this case Facebook is obliging itself to follow the decision of the Board only on the Trump issue; the case is limited. Good. What I find more valuable than the decision is the discussion. What precedents are set here for other situations in other countries? Last week, a reporter called me to discuss whether Trump’s decision sets a precedentfor overthrowing Ayatollah Khamenei on the basis of human rights violations in Iran. Certainly this is a discussion that should be done in the Philippines – ask my friend Maria Ressa – in Myanmar, Turkey and elsewhere. Platforms must not become the outlet for governments, especially autocrats and tyrants.

Twitter has been transparent with the media about the process that led to it eliminating Trump; see stories in The Washington send and New York Times . I met with the company policy manager, Vijaya Gadde, as well as Jack Dorsey and the company staff who work safely, and was impressed with their goodwill and judgment. I have more faith the more I hear about their decision making. The same goes for any tech company. I argued that Facebook, Twitter, Google – and, indeed, any journalistic business – should establish alliances, Polar Stars, Constitutions (call them whatever you want)with the public and to be held responsible for following them through transparency (I was part of the working group that a regulatory and legal framework recommendeddo just that).

The Internet is finally the outlet for citizens, especially those who have not heard from the mass media for too long. This is our print. When we abuse it – both as citizens and as heads of state – platforms have the right and responsibility to moderate us (which is why I am a staunch supporter of Section 230) but governments should not control our discourse (which is why I am an absolutist. of the First Amendment).

These are really big questions as we decide together which standards the network – Facebook, Twitter, Google specifically, but the internet and society as a whole – should establish in relation to speech and power. The more discussions we have about these difficult issues, the better. Because we are a company relearn how to have a conversation with ourselvesafter half a millennium at the mercy of Gutenberg (this is the book I’m writing). It won’t be fast.

The Council will have 90 days to decide.


Disclosure: Facebook funded journalism and disinformation activities at my school. I do not receive anything personally from any platform.

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