WASHINGTON — On Friday, nine groups predominantly led by people of color filed a comment to Facebook’s Oversight Board questioning whether the Facebook-created entity had the authority to reinstate former President Donald Trump’s suspended account.
While the groups believe that Trump’s Facebook suspension should be made permanent, they expressed deep reservations about the Oversight Board’s approach to these sorts of decisions.
“Facebook’s content moderation and enforcement practices are broken,” write the groups. “The Oversight Board must act in the public interest and prioritize the health and safety of our communities. If the Board believes that Facebook’s insufficient protocols prevent it from affirming Trump’s suspension, then the Board should decline to resolve this matter until Facebook’s house is in order.”
The groups — ADL, the Asian American Organizing Project, Common Sense, Free Press, Guns Down America, MediaJustice, the National Hispanic Media Coalition, Parsons School of Design and Voto Latino — criticize recent Board decisions to reinstate hateful content, including a blatantly anti-Muslim post that depicted a dead Rohingya child in Myanmar. The signers note that the Board is correct to critique Facebook’s “deeply flawed” practices and emphasize that “restoring hateful content is the wrong remedy.”
Free Press Senior Policy Counsel Carmen Scurato, who led the coalition effort here, made the following statement:
“The Oversight Board must act first in the public interest. The health and safety of our communities should be its top priority. Simply stating that Facebook has insufficient protocols to address hateful posts by powerful politicians should not prevent it from affirming Trump’s suspension. The Board must look at the entirety of Trump’s account and his long history of inciting violence against marginalized communities; it should not limit the scope of its review to the two posts referred to by Facebook.
“Reinstating Trump simply because the company’s rules are unclear and arbitrarily enforced would be a grave mistake — one that puts our communities at risk of violence from the sorts of hate groups that Trump has incited to act. The Board must acknowledge that Trump’s social-media presence has made not just Facebook users but the entire world less safe. It must act in defense of the people we represent and not reverse Facebook’s decision on a process foul.
“Facebook has long been a megaphone for the spread of violent and hateful rhetoric. Trump has used the platform to incite action by white-supremacist and paramilitary groups. The Oversight Board must take into full account Trump’s violent legacy of Facebook posts before issuing any decision.
“The events that took place on January 6 were the tragic outcome of Facebook’s refusal to meaningfully address hate — and its use of erratic and illogical systems for enforcing its own content-moderation policies. The Oversight Board must center the real lives at stake in any decision it makes, and refuse this prolific inciter of violence and insurrection the privilege of amplifying hate on Facebook’s platforms.”