Facebook Predictably Continues to Censor Trump
The extension was likely an easy call for the social media behemoth’s hard-left oversight board.
Still suspended. That’s the word from Facebook’s Oversight Board to former President Donald Trump.
As the Wall Street Journal editorial board writes, “Facebook reneged on its commitment to free expression when it banned Donald Trump ‘indefinitely’ from the platform in the panic surrounding the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. The company’s oversight board rendered its mixed judgment on the ban Wednesday, and the ruling is a win for Facebook’s censors. But the board has also given CEO Mark Zuckerberg an opening to rediscover his free-speech principles, if he has the nerve.”
That opening? The board ordered Facebook’s executives to come back within six months with a “defined penalty” for it to review. So, in the meantime, a former U.S. president continues to be censored by a selective suppressor of speech — a Big Tech behemoth that continues to enjoy (and profit from) outdated Section 230 protections that shield it against lawsuits from its users.
“What Facebook, Twitter, and Google have done is a total disgrace and an embarrassment to our Country,” said Donald Trump himself. “Free Speech has been taken away from the President of the United States because the Radical Left Lunatics are afraid of the truth, but the truth will come out anyway, bigger and stronger than ever before. The People of our Country will not stand for it!”
Republican Senator Josh Hawley saw through the sham of it: “This is a fake court set up by Facebook to allow Facebook to do whatever Facebook wants to do. This is what you can do with your monopoly because there is no accountability. … They don’t have any real competition, so they can go out there and suspend [or] deplatform a sitting U.S. president.”
Ben Shapiro detected a bit of a double-standard: “Facebook’s Oversight Board says they were right to suspend Trump,” he tweeted, “because he violated their rule ‘prohibiting praise or support of people engaged in violence.’ Last year, nearly the entire media and Democratic Party praised people engaged in the most costly riots in US history.”
House Republicans seemed genuinely upset by the board’s ruling, so we should expect a sternly worded memo shortly. “Facebook is more interested in acting like a Democrat Super PAC than a platform for free speech and open debate,” tweeted Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. “If they can ban President Trump, all conservative voices could be next. A House Republican majority will rein in big tech power over our speech.”
The WSJ editors are unquestionably proponents of free speech, but perhaps they have an added interest here in that their own ox was recently gored by Facebook. As they wrote on March 5, “China last winter censored doctors who shared ‘dangerous’ misinformation about the novel coronavirus on social media. Now America’s self-anointed virus experts and social-media giants are also silencing doctors with contrarian views in an apparent effort to shut down scientific debate. We’re seeing this up close and personal. Facebook this week appended a Wall Street Journal op-ed … by Johns Hopkins surgeon Marty Makary with the label ‘Missing Context. Independent fact-checkers say this information could mislead people.’ According to Facebook, ‘Once we have a rating from a fact-checking partner, we take action by ensuring that fewer people see that misinformation.’”
Yes, and everyone trusts The Fact-Checkers™.
The decision to continue banning Trump isn’t surprising given the hard-left makeup of Facebook’s multicultural board. As the Journal notes, it comprises “only two who clearly lean to the right: former federal judge Michael McConnell and anti-Trump libertarian John Samples. The others are varying degrees of center-left to further left.”
You’re telling us. As the Washington Examiner reports, “Fifteen of the 20 members have either worked for or are in jobs funded by [George] Soros’s foundations.” Said one board member, “God forbid if Trump becomes the president, this will be my last visit to US.” Said another, “Unfortunately I don’t trust Trump because I generally don’t trust racist people.”
Talk about a tainted jury pool.
Perhaps having sensed the direction of the board’s Wednesday announcement, Trump preempted them. As Fox News’s Brooke Singman reports, “Trump launched a communications platform on Tuesday, which will serve as ‘a place to speak freely and safely,’ and will eventually give him the ability to communicate directly with his followers, after months of being banned from sites like Twitter and Facebook,” as well as Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube.
The platform, “From the Desk of Donald J. Trump,” is essentially a blog from which he can post comments, pictures, and videos. Furthermore, as Singman writes, “[It] allows followers to share the former president’s posts to Twitter and Facebook, however, the new platform does not have a feature to allow users to ‘reply’ or engage with Trump’s posts.”
As the Journal rightly concludes, “The oversight board advises that ‘Facebook must resist pressure from governments to silence their political opposition.’ But this is already happening in the U.S., as Democrats in Congress use their legal leverage over social-media platforms to press for censorship. This is a graver threat to democracy than Mr. Trump’s rhetoric. Mr. Zuckerberg needs the courage of his professed convictions.”
We won’t be holding our breath.
Updated to include a quote from former President Donald Trump.
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