It’s not uncommon to hear people say, only half-jokingly, that due to their financial and other powers, Big Tech companies are becoming “states” right before our eyes. As they rob their users of sovereignty, these companies are working to build more of their own.
Facebook attempting to basically introduce its own (digital) currency, Libra, raised some red flags in the not so distant past. And in that same context, it’s unlikely that the choice of words when informally describing the giant’s Oversight Board as “Facebook Supreme Court” was accidental.
Just as Libra before it, the Oversight Board is now coming up with some pushback from high places. A commissioner with the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Wednesday even went as far as to describe the Board as “your new speech police.” (Would be interesting to know what is considered the “old” speech police.)
Commissioner Brendan Carr also said in a tweet that the Board is “empowered to take down posts” – even though Facebook previously said that posts won’t be removed, i.e., censored, on political grounds.
Carr took issue with the composition of the 20-member body that has these powers, which he fears will prove to be biased against President Trump and the current administration – and let’s not forget, this is happening in the year of a US election, on a social platform that reaches billions.
Carr especially singled out Facebook Oversight Board member Pamela Karlan, whose previous claim to fame was serving in the Obama administration, and testifying against Trump during the ill-fated attempt last year to impeach him. Add to that the New York Times calling her “a full-throated, unapologetic liberal torchbearer” – and the FCC commissioner is worried about the impartiality of the policy Facebook is about to introduce through the Oversight Board.
In a series of tweets, Carr also mentioned other anti-Trump members of the board, including those who in the past called for the deplatforming of the president, and if Facebook’s new speech police are happy to go as far as deplatform the President, who else would they be happy to silence?