Can the monitoring board force Facebook to follow its own rules?


Facebook’s oversight board has finally handed down its most fruitful decision to date: whether Donald Trump’s “indefinite” suspension of Facebook should be permanent. Except, it’s just Type, type Made a decision.

In a The board said it agreed with Facebook’s initial call for Trump to be suspended, but did not agree with handling the situation, and that it was up to the agency to decide whether Trump could return to the platform. So, once again, the fate of Donald Trump’s Facebook account has come up in the air. Social media, Nick Clegg, has 6 months to remember. If it is applied to the Oversight Board, it may take longer The second time – Something that board members have readily acknowledged as a unique possibility.

Surprisingly, not everyone was happy with the outcome. A group of “Real Facebook Oversight Board,” , Calling the decision a “desperate attempt to do it both ways.” “Today’s decision shows that the Facebook Oversight board exam failed,” it wrote .

On his behalf, the Oversight Board has suggested that the lack of a clear verdict on Trump was intended to send a strong message to Facebook. The board wrote in a decision, “After the imposition of indefinite and unwarranted fines and referring the matter to the board for resolution, Facebook seeks to avoid its responsibilities.” “The board rejected Facebook’s request and insisted that Facebook could enforce and justify a set fine.” In other words: when it comes to Trump, Facebook needs to clear its own mess.

Trump’s trouble

Whatever your opinion of the supervisory board, this particular decision seemed to surprise almost everyone. Some have wondered if the board is responding to widespread criticism of the agency’s presence just to provide political cover on Facebook. Sending highly controversial and other “borderline” cases to the group is, above all, a convenient way for Facebook to avoid making tough and inevitably unpleasant decisions (especially those that additional regulators may investigate).

Facebook, naturally does not agree. “We try to take Facebook into account as much as possible as a private company and try to make it accountable to an independent and independent organization,” Clegg said. Following the decision of the board

But the Oversight Board’s decision to return things to Facebook speaks to issues that run much deeper than just Trump. One of the most notable issues raised by the Oversight Board in its 12,000-word decision is that Facebook is not particularly good at consistently enforcing its policies, especially when politicians. And when it comes to other influential personalities.

In interviews with reporters, both vice-presidents of the Oversight Board, Michael McConnell and Hale Thorning-Schmidt, have repeatedly criticized Facebook’s ability to enforce its own rules. “The Overtight Board has told Facebook that they can’t just invent new unwritten rules when they fit them,” Thorning-Smith said. McConnell said Trump’s suspension was an example of Facebook’s “ad-hoc” Eri, noting that the board had received more than 20,000 applications from users, many of whom did not understand social network policies or argued for action against their accounts. Do not understand

Affecting Facebook

Just pointing holes in Facebook’s policies just goes so far. The company has been around for several years (often, ) Has been accused of making its own rules to make Trump fit or to avoid politically dangerous decisions. The fact that the oversight is echoing some of the same criticisms has now changed little.

But the board does have some power to influence Facebook’s rules, including how it treats Trump. In addition to making binary acceptance / discount decisions, the group makes policy recommendations in each case. Unlike specific content add-on issues, Facebook does not need to do what the board says, but needs to respond and provide explanations.

It is in these recommendations where the Oversight Board will request meaningful change. It made a number of recommendations in the case of Trump’s suspension. Among them:

  • Facebook should “publicly explain the rules it uses when imposing account-level sanctions against influential users.”

  • “When Facebook applies special practices that apply to influential users, they should be well documented.”

  • “In order to restrict profiles, pages, groups, and accounts on Facebook and Instagram in a clear, comprehensive, and accessible way, Facebook should interpret its community standards and guidelines in a strike and fine manner.”

  • “Facebook needs to resist pressure from governments to silence their political opponents. In order to evaluate the political discourse of highly influential users, Facebook should be familiar with the linguistic and political context and expedite the content restraint process to specialized staff excited by political and economic interference and irrational influences. “

  • “While the posts of influential users pose a high probability of impending harm as evaluated in accordance with international human rights standards, Facebook should take action to expedite its implementation.”

  • “Facebook should make a comprehensive review of its potential contribution to electoral fraud and the escalation of violence in the United States in the wake of the January, 2021, violence. . “

However, Facebook has already indicated that it is not fully willing to cooperate. The board said in its decision that the agency had failed to answer a number of important questions that spoke to the issues raised in its policy recommendations.

For example, the board said Facebook would not answer key questions about how news feeds or other Facebook features could expand Trump’s posts, or whether the agency wanted to study the decisions of those designs “related to the January, 2121 incident.” These questions address a number of standing issues, including the role of Facebook in Trump’s failure to dismiss. .

The board also said that Facebook refused to answer questions about its dealings with other politicians and “whether political officers or their staff were contacted about suspending Mr. Trump’s account” or whether the suspension affected political advertising. According to the board, Facebook has said that some of these requests are “not reasonably needed” under the rules governing the board’s oversight.

These, in turn, raise questions about how much influence Facebook wants to give to the oversight board. The treatment of the organization for elected officials, its rules for political advertising, and the consequences of its algorithms are among the most consequential issues at present. If Facebook doesn’t even agree to answer questions about these issues, it doesn’t seem to fully embrace the incredible board’s policy changes.

Moreover, Facebook already has a mixed track record in responding to the board’s policy advice. So far the agency has issued only one set of responses to the board. And although it said it was “committed to action” in several cases, it was very effective . If it again refuses to promise to make specific changes in this regard, it will further prove that the biggest critics of the Oversight Board are right: it cannot control Facebook above all.

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