The decision by the Oversight Board of Facebook to continue banning Donald Trump is one of the biggest moves against free speech and the modern definition of its limits that the world has seen. The left may laugh now, but they should fight this precedent alongside with political competitors.
The rules that they originally made the decision on could become even more important if Trump decided to run for political office again.
There’s almost zero chance this will not end up as a test in the Supreme Court.
Those rules, the decision, and the fact that this oversight board has zero political mandate for its massive power, mean that they have implications far beyond the politics of the United States.
Political leaders around the globe have been allowed to break some of Facebook’s content rules if public interest outweighed the harm done by their posts.
Republicans are quite reasonably outraged. Every person who is a politician who wants to incite revolt or revolution should also be worried: if it’s good for the right, it’s good for the left. This is what this Facebook “regulator” said in its recent decision that “If a head of state or high government official has repeatedly posted messages that pose a risk of harm under international human rights norms, Facebook should suspend the account for a period sufficient to protect against imminent harm.”
So on that immortal and incredibly woolly judgement, we should expect to see Brazil’s Bolsonaro shut down, and Modi for inciting mass unmasked gatherings, or in fact all the way down to some Greenie protesting in a tree with some human harm around them.
And of course by using the word “hang”, the could probably ban me for use of a metaphor. It’s not of course in their interests either way, but that’s the ‘free speech’ quagmire they are wading into.
I’ve posted before about the need to regulate these massive social media ‘broadcasters’ who simply define themselves as ‘platforms’.
I have zero sympathy for them now.
Facebook, by refusing full state regulation as a broadcaster, have tied another noose around their own reputational neck.