Facebook’s Oversight Board, which will hear appeals on content removal and is packed with left-wing members, will herald a further shift away from a “a U.S. constitutional-law paradigm towards an international human rights approach” towards censorship and free speech.
That’s the verdict of law professor Sejal Parmar, a member of the Council of Europe’s “Committee on Combating Hate Speech,” and a former assistant professor at George Soros’s Central European University.
In an article, which was shared on Twitter by Catalina Botero-Marino, one of the Facebook Oversight board’s four co-chairs, Parmer hails the shift away from American norms towards European and international ones:
Great expectations surround Facebook’s Oversight Board, an audacious experiment in platform self-regulation, with its first 20 members announced on May 6. It was a milestone in Facebook’s response to compelling calls for greater accountability and transparency. The board evokes constitutional law notions in various ways: its original conceptualization by Mark Zuckerberg as “almost like a Supreme Court;” its power to deliver “binding decisions,” as well as “policy advisory statements;” the institution-building language and framework of its charter and bylaws; and the fact that its initial membership encompasses six constitutional lawyers, including three specialists in American constitutional law, with two serving as co-chairs.
Such “constitutional features” exist against a backdrop of approaches to content moderation by Facebook and other platforms that so far have been “undergirded by American free speech norms.” Facebook’s creation of the board suggests a clear and conscious turn from such a U.S. constitutional-law paradigm towards an international human rights approach in content moderation by the world’s most powerful social media company. But the nature and degree of this shift depend on how the board, in delivering its decisions within the confines of its jurisdiction, will interpret the relationship between Facebook’s community standards and values, on the one hand, and international human rights standards, encompassing international treaty law and non-binding standards, on the other.
The move away from American free speech norms and towards “international human rights standards” means less free speech, and more curtailing of so-called “hate speech.” In contrast to America’s First Amendment tradition, international human rights law’s idea of “free speech” is any speech that political elites haven’t categorized as hateful or “harmful.”
It is further confirmation of the trend Google described in its leaked briefing document “The Good Censor,” which was first published by Breitbart News in 2018. That document admitted that Google and other tech companies, including Facebook, “shifted towards censorship” after 2016, moving away from the American tradition, which in Google’s view “prioritizes free speech for democracy, not civility,” and the European approach, which “favors dignity over liberty, and civility over freedom.”
Facebook’s refusal to let American users be governed by American speech norms is, according to Parmar, another sign that Silicon Valley is using its vast power over online speech to introduce Soros-backed international and European speech norms into American public discourse.
With no major Trump supporters among the 20 members of the Oversight Board, and certainly no-one who could be said to believe that Facebook should use the First Amendment standard in cases of so-called hate speech, even for American users, Facebook’s new organization is skewed to the globalist left. For this reason, it has come under sustained criticism from conservatives around the world, including in Hungary and Britain, who will be subject to its corporate-backed system of “justice.”
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Allum Bokhari is the senior technology correspondent at Breitbart News.