Facebook Oversight Board Proves its Pointlessness

Fake Supreme Court Takes Victory Lap for “Upholding Ban of Trump” While Punting Real Decisions Back to Facebook; World’s Most Obvious Content Moderation Decision Still Pending

Statement for attribution from the Real Facebook Oversight Board:

MAY 5 — Today’s decision shows that the Facebook Oversight Board experiment has failed. This verdict is a desperate attempt to have it both ways, upholding the “ban” of Donald Trump without actually banning him, while punting any real decisions back to Facebook.

Donald Trump has used Facebook to spread disinformation and incite hate and violence for years. Even when he posted ‘When the looting starts, the shooting starts,’ Facebook failed to act. He violated their terms of service again and again and again, facing no consequences. And yet, Facebook’s Oversight Board still could not summon the courage or common sense to uphold a permanent ban.

As such we ask: what is the point of the Oversight Board? This is a Facebook-funded, Facebook-appointed body that has no legitimacy to make real decisions. Facebook’s attempt to divert attention from its fundamental failure to take responsibility for what’s on its own platform has itself failed.

Don’t be fooled — Facebook wants a gold star. But this is not a permanent ban. And Facebook’s failure to control this content to begin with, and the overwhelming volume of dangerous content that remains on the platform show the inadequacy of the Oversight Board.

As we recently learned from a damning report by the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism, Facebook is a playground for dictators all over the world who face no consequences for their misuse of the platform. Bolsinaro, Duterte, Modi, Orban, Duda — all continue to use Facebook to repress their citizenry. Why? Why is Steve Bannon still on Facebook, spreading the big lie about the 2020 election? Why was Facebook the platform of choice for insurrectionists on January 6th? This decision does nothing to root out the deep, systemic content issues plaguing Facebook.

The Facebook Oversight Board has been touted as Facebook’s “Supreme Court,” and a grand experiment in online content moderation. This muddled ruling, however, reveals the Oversight Board as an empty suit — an obvious case, referred by Facebook to an entity they paid for, which took nearly four months to reach a partial ruling that does nothing to fundamentally challenge Facebook’s business model or approach to content.

Early headlines say Donald Trump is now gone from Facebook forever. But that’s not actually what the ruling says. And right-wing extremism, disinformation and hate speech flourish on Facebook with impunity. Other than the false sense of security that comes from another well-executed PR stunt from Facebook, democracy is no safer today than it was yesterday.

The Oversight Board has made some sound recommendations to Facebook. Let’s see what Facebook does with them. It’s under no obligation to implement them.

Interviews are available with Real Facebook Oversight Board members.

An emergency response to the ongoing harms on Facebook’s platforms from leading global scholars, experts and advocates.