Free Speech Alliance: Facebook Oversight Board Is Packed with Liberals

RESTON, VA – The Free Speech Alliance (FSA), a coalition of more than 60 conservative organizations, released the following statement Thursday about Facebook's new Oversight Board and efforts to decide what content should be taken down from the site.

The FSA declared, “Conservatives warned from the start that any new oversight mechanism was fraught with danger. Our fears were well founded. This new board will damage Facebook more than it can imagine.”

[Screen shot at right is from Facebook's video on the oversight board.]

Here is the statement in full: 

While leftist organizations savaged him, we supported CEO Mark Zuckerberg when he talked about making Facebook a marketplace of ideas and spoke forcefully saying the company “must continue to stand for free expression.”

Yet leftist forces within and outside of Facebook have condemned him for this, agitating for the company to become an arbiter of what is, and isn’t truth; and therefore what should and should not be presented on Facebook. Facebook wants the public to believe that its new Oversight Board will help solve the problems “about what content to take down or leave up.”

Conservatives warned from the start that any new oversight mechanism was fraught with danger. Our fears were well founded. This new board will damage Facebook more than it can imagine.

We had cautioned that the oversight would be too international and unable or unwilling to embrace America’s 1st Amendment ideals of free speech, while embracing an internationalist construct pleasing to the radical left and likely to make Facebook’s restrictive content policies even worse.

And that’s precisely what the company delivered. The new Oversight Board announced itself with a New York Times op-ed from the four co-chairs. Only one of the four, Stanford Law School Prof. Michael McConnell, is at all conservative. And not as strong as many would like.

The other three are reliably liberal. Columbia Law Prof. Jamal Greene was an aide to Senator Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) during the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings. Catalina Botero-Marino is the dean of the Universidad de los Andes Faculty of Law of Colombia. She is also a member of the board of directors of the Center for Reproductive Rights, a pro-abortion group. That is especially infuriating to pro-life groups that are regularly targeted on social media for their beliefs. No pro-life leader need apply to this board.

Then there’s the former prime minister of Denmark, Helle Thorning-Schmidt. She declared she “does not believe in eternal life, salvation or heaven and hell,” according to the publication Kristligt Dagblad.

Thorning-Schmidt is also one of at least six of the 15 international members of the board who openly espouse anti-Trump sentiments. She posted recently on Twitter over a photo of Obama endorsing presumptive Democrat presidential nominee Joe Biden: “The endorsement!! OMG, Miss the voice of decency and grace.”

The board members picked by the co-chairs are as left-wing as you might expect. Former Guardian Editor Alan Rusbridger has gone from supporting a free press to endorsing censorship. He tweeted in late March that the press should shut down President Donald Trump’s press conferences. “Completely agree that media should stop live broadcasting Trump, especially since he rejects robust challenges from reporters.” This is Facebook’s new commitment to free speech.

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Tawakkol Karman explained in an interview with the Spanish daily El Pais that she did “not trust Trump because I do not trust racist people.”

We find no one supportive of Trump.

It’s not just what the members oppose that is the problem. It’s what, and who, they support. At least three members have ties to leftist billionaire George Soros. One works directly for his Open Society organizations. Another was the founding dean at Central European University, which Soros founded and funded with nearly $1 billion. Even Oversight Board Executive Director Thomas Hughes comes from Article 19, which has received more than $2 million from Soros.

Some might argue that the right and Soros could find common ground supporting free speech. That’s not likely since Soros funds the very groups in the U.S. that are committed to banning conservatives from the open marketplace of ideas by branding them “haters” and the like. There are many wealthy donors on the right who also espouse free speech. Why aren’t they equally represented? One can only imagine how loudly the left would scream if three board members had ties to prominent conservative funders.

Sadly, Soros has far more influence with that board than the entire American right who are represented by one traditional conservative and one libertarian. Instead of supporting one another on rulings involving key social issues, they would likely cancel each other out.

It is too early to tell how such this board would rule. But it is terrifying to imagine how a powerful, leftist group like this might view control conservative speech — speech that defends free enterprise, traditional marriage, religious freedom, the lives of the unborn, free speech and gun rights, to name but a few.

The answer in social media has often been to call such beliefs “hate speech,” the club the left has used to beat their opponents into submission on college campuses and online. And it has been a code word for anti-conservative censors like the Southern Poverty Law Center to shut down speech it doesn’t like.

The op-ed by the four co-chairs conveniently mentioned some form of the term “hate” three separate times.

That’s not just scary, it’s dangerous. The board is dominated not by believers in the U.S. Constitution and its protections of rights; it is controlled overwhelmingly by members who live in nations in opposition to such protections. The global view of rights — even in countries we consider strong allies like the U.K. or Australia — is as far away from American beliefs as they are geographically.

It is Orwellian. The international left is not open to free speech; it is intolerant of it. It has proclaimed that “climate change” is “settled science,” therefore any challenge based on science is untrue. The gay lifestyle is a moral right. Any challenge to it is an assault on the “dignity of man,” and therefore constitutes hate speech. Abortion “rights” are sacred; therefore the rights of the unborn are non-existent, and therefore their advocates are disingenuous. On and on it goes.

We believe Mark Zuckerberg was and continues to be committed to the free marketplace of ideas with Facebook a platform and not a publisher. But Facebook has created yet another layer of control over that market, now dominated almost exclusively by non-American leftists.

Unlike its Silicon Valley cousins, Facebook has made a good faith effort to reach out to conservatives for their opinion, and we recognize that.

And so we offer this opinion of the proposed Oversight Board: When you announce your next 20 members, ensure that they will balance out the aggressively leftist tilt of this new venture your company has taken. Better yet: Get rid of the whole thing.

Members of the Free Speech Alliance (FSA) include:

 

L. Brent Bozell III

Founder and President

Media Research Center

 

Saulius Anuzis

President

60 Plus Association

 

Brigitte Gabriel

President

ACT for America

 

Lori Roman

President

American Civil Rights Union

 

Phil Kerpen

President

American Commitment

 

Tim Wildmon

President

American Family Association

 

Terry Schilling

Executive Director

American Principles Project

 

R. Emmett Tyrrell

Founder and Editor-In-Chief

American Spectator

 

Mark Fitzgibbons

President of Corporate Affairs

American Target Advertising

 

Gary Bauer

President

American Values

 

Richard Manning

President

Americans for Limited Government

 

Tricia Erickson

President

Angel Pictures & Publicity

 

Bill Donohue

President

Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights

 

Jeff Hunt

Director

Centennial Institute

 

Austin Ruse

President

Center for Family and Human Rights

 

Elaine Donnelly

Founder and President

Center for Military Readiness

 

Frank Gaffney

President

Center for Security Policy

 

John Hinderaker

President

Center of the American Experiment

 

Robert Allman

News Director

Christian Broadcasting Network

 

Theodore Baehr

Publisher, Founder

Christian Film & Television Commission

 

David Bossie

President and Chairman

Citizens United

 

Michelle Easton

Board President

Clare Boothe Luce Center for Conservative Women

 

Ryan Williams

President

Claremont Institute

 

Penny Nance

President

Concerned Women for America

 

Allen West

Senior Fellow

Media Research Fellow

 

George Rasley

Managing Editor

Conservative HQ

 

Ed Corrigan

Executive Director

Conservative Partnership Institute

 

James Nolan

President

Crossroads Pro-Life Walks Across America

 

Eunie Smith

President

Eagle Forum

 

Sharon Slater

President and Founder

Family Watch International

 

Christie Lee McNally

President

Raven Strategies

 

Adam Brandon

President and CEO

FreedomWorks

 

Will Chamberlain

Editor-in-Chief and Publisher

Human Events

 

Charles Copeland

President

Intercollegiate Studies Institute

 

Mat Staver

Founder and Chairman

Liberty Counsel

 

John-Henry Westen

Editor-in-Chief, Co-Founder

Life Site News

 

Steven Ertelt

Editor

LifeNews.com

 

Kassy Dillon

Founder and President

Lone Conservative

 

Gene Mills

President

Louisiana Family Forum

 

Justin Danhof

General Counsel

National Center for Public Policy Research

 

Brian Brown

President

National Organization for Marriage

 

Gavin Wax

Editor in Chief

The Spiel

 

Kevin Freeman

Founder and Chairman

NSIC Institute

 

Craig Strazzeri

Chief Marketing Officer

PragerU

 

James O'Keefe

President

Project Veritas

 

Tom Spence

President and Publisher

Regnery Publishing

 

Craig Shirley

Founder, Chairman & CEO

Shirley & Banister

 

Kristan Hawkins

President

Students for Life

 

Marjorie Dannenfelser

President

Susan B. Anthony List

 

Jenny Beth Martin

Chairman

Tea Party Patriots, Inc.

 

C. Preston Noell III

 

Jim Lakely

Vice President and Director of Communications

The Heartland Institute

 

Morton Blackwell

President

The Leadership Institute

 

Rod Martin

Founder and CEO

The Martin Organization

 

Ryan Bomberger

Chief Creative Officer

The Radiance Foundation

 

Paul Gessing

President

The Rio Grande Foundation

 

Floyd Brown

Publisher

Western Journal

 

David Kupelian

Vice President and Managing Editor

WND

 

Amy Kremer

Co-founder & Chairman

Women for Trump

 

Jessica Jensen

Vice President & Chief of Staff

Young America's Foundation

 

Alfonso Aguilar

President

Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles

NB Daily Facebook Free Speech Alliance (FSA)