For Immediate Release
May 4, 2021
Accountable Tech co-founder Jesse Lehrich released the following statement ahead of Wednesday’s ruling from the Facebook Oversight Board regarding former President Trump’s suspension:
“First, let’s be absolutely clear: When a company establishes its own quasi-judicial global ‘supreme court’ for self-regulation, that’s not a constraint on its power – it’s an absurd embodiment of it.
As we outlined last summer, the Facebook Oversight Board is a corporate PR tool designed to shirk responsibility and stave off actual regulation. Facebook slow-walked its rollout for three years, with its first rulings issued only after the company had helped incite an insurrection. Facebook wholly financed the Board, and wrote its restrictive charter and bylaws, which place Facebook’s core profit-drivers – like its algorithms and ad targeting practices – outside the Board’s purview. Facebook selected the Board’s trustees and its members, who receive 6-figure Facebook-funded salaries for working 15 hours per week. (To confirm these details, contact the Board’s Head of Communications – Mark Zuckerberg’s longtime personal speechwriter.)
Before finally suspending the outgoing president and punting the case to the Oversight Board, Facebook spent years bending over backwards to appease him and his allies. They did so even as their own Civil Rights Auditors expressed ‘grave concerns’ about the platform’s fact-checking exemption for politicians and inaction on Trump’s racist posts, warning presciently, ‘With only months left before a major election, this is deeply troublesome as misinformation, sowing racial division and calls for violence near elections can do great damage to our democracy.’
The Oversight Board should not green-light Trump’s return to Facebook, where he will continue stoking hate and division, spouting election lies, and spreading COVID disinformation. The Oversight Board should also not be treated as a legitimate mechanism of accountability.”