Mostly Non-American Meta Oversight Board Weighs in on Trump Reinstatement

January 26th, 2023 5:20 PM

Meta announced Wednesday that former President Donald Trump would be allowed back on Facebook and Instagram in the “coming weeks,” and Meta’s largely international Oversight Board responded.

“Today’s decision to reinstate Mr. Trump on Meta’s platforms sat with Meta alone — the Board did not have a role in the decision,” declared the Oversight Board. The Board, however, was briefed on Meta’s decision-making process. The Oversight Board pontificated on the necessity for “Meta to be transparent” in the use of its “important” new draconian “guardrails” it adopted to censor people. Only five of the 22 Oversight Board members are from the U.S., and many are from countries with no history of protecting speech.

“One of the worst mistakes Facebook ever made was creating a foreign-controlled Oversight Board that will apply the wrong standards that end up suppressing free speech rights of Americans,” said Vice President of MRC Free Speech America & MRC Business Dan Schneider. “Our First Amendment is the gold standard. The rest of the world should follow our lead. We shouldn’t succumb to authoritarian oppression.”

The Oversight Board called on Meta to disclose the “additional details” behind its decision to unban Trump from Facebook and Instagram:

“[T]he Board calls on Meta to provide additional details of its assessment so that the Board can review the implementation of the Board’s decision and recommendations in this case, to define varying violation severities by public figures in the context of civil unrest, and to articulate the way that the policy on public figure violations in the context of civil unrest relates to the crisis policy protocol.”

In 2020, MRC TechWatch, now MRC Free Speech America, called out the “radical views” behind the then-new Facebook Oversight Board, noting that it had no First Amendment grounding. Furthermore, members of the Oversight Board were from all over the world. They come from countries that have no free speech history or that pushed censorship and speech restrictions in recent years. 

Some of the countries currently represented on the Oversight Board include: Egypt, Pakistan, Mexico, Yemen, the UK and Australia. Less than a fourth of the 22 listed members are American, even though Meta is an American company.

The Oversight Board noted that its former decision to uphold Trump’s ban on Facebook and Instagram involved review of Trump’s posts. “The Board agreed that Mr. Trump had violated the platform's policies by praising the people who were rioting in the Capitol at the time, but concluded that the ‘indefinite’ length of the suspension was in violation of the rules and needed to be revisited,” the Oversight Board wrote in its statement. Actually, Trump explicitly called for peace and never condoned any violence at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

Meta imposed a two-year suspension on Trump in May 2021 on top of the temporary Jan. 7 suspension following the Oversight Board’s decision, the statement recapped. Meta announced Jan. 25 that the “risk” from Trump’s accounts “has sufficiently receded,” though it warned it could censor or suspend Trump again at any time.

The Oversight Board was approving of Meta’s new censorship restrictions, which could be applied even to accounts that don’t violate Instagram’s and Facebook’s rules but present a supposed “risk.” Because Facebook is never biased when assessing “risks,” right? 

Conservatives are under attack. Contact Facebook headquarters at (650) 308-7300 and demand that Big Tech be held to account to mirror the First Amendment while providing transparency, clarity on so-called hate speech and equal footing for conservatives. If you have been censored, contact us using CensorTrack’s contact form, and help us hold Big Tech accountable.