A member of Facebook’s Oversight Board is now blasting Facebook for their uneven application of the rules in the matter of President Donald Trump.
Michael McConnell, who is a former federal judge, appeared on Fox with Chris Wallace. McConnell explained the Oversight’s recent decision about Trump’s ban from Facebook. He said that the Oversight Board had given Facebook a certain amount of time to get their house in order but that their rules were a “shambles.”
“They are not transparent. They are unclear. They are internally inconsistent,” McConnell declared. “So we made a series of recommendations about how to make their rules clearer and more consistent.”
McConnell said that while they believed that the ban was right, the indefinite nature of it wasn’t consistent with the rules and was arbitrary. He explained that Facebook rules should apply to everyone equally. “What we did say, though, was that they were not justified in taking him down indefinitely, that they did not provide any reasons for that, that is not a provision in their rules. That was wrong,” he said.
“What we are trying to do is bring some of the most important principles of the First Amendment, of free expression law globally, into this operation. Facebook exercises too much power. They are arbitrary. They are inconsistent. And it is the job of the Oversight Board to try to bring some discipline to that process,” he said.
Good for McConnell for calling the arbitrariness of the Facebook rules.
But, the problem was, even with the Oversight Board, they themselves were inconsistent. If they thought the application of the rule was incorrect, why did they allow the indefinite ban to stand? The Board said the arbitrariness of the ban violated Facebook’s rules, but then they gave Facebook six months to review it. That, in itself, seems arbitrary.
Meanwhile Republicans are not only not happy with how this went down, they’re unhappy in general with what they feel are biased application of the rules that seem to disproportionately be targeting conservatives. Will Facebook or the Facebook Oversight Board address that concern?
Some on the right are calling for action and/or breaking up Big Tech.
Here’s a small sample.
Every single American should be OUTRAGED by Big Tech’s clear bias in when and who they CENSOR.
They are setting a dangerous precedent.
— GOP (@GOP) May 8, 2021
If you’re surprised by Facebook banning President Trump, you haven’t been paying attention. It’s just the latest page in the book of big tech coming after conservatives. And they won’t stop.
Which means it’s past time to hold them accountable. Break them up.
— Mark Meadows (@MarkMeadows) May 5, 2021
For every liberal celebrating Trump’s social media ban, if the Big Tech oligarchs can muzzle the former President, what’s to stop them from silencing you? https://t.co/Yky4P0B38X
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) May 5, 2021
But that thought isn’t just on the right, it was endorsed by people like Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), as well, who said that while she was “glad” Trump wasn’t on Facebook it was just “further demonstration that these giant tech companies are way, way, way too powerful” and should be broken up.
So, while it’s good that this Oversight Board member realizes there’s an issue, there needs to be action and not kicking the can down the road.