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‘Muzzling Freedom of Expression’: Facebook Slammed for Appointing Israeli Censor to Oversight Board

Sputnik – May 28, 2020

On 6 May Facebook revealed the first 20 members of its Oversight Board, an independent body entrusted with the final say over certain content moderation decisions for the world’s largest social media platform, the creation of which was announced in November 2018, to avoid accusations of bias over removing content deemed problematic

Facebook has been taking flack for hiring the former director-general of Israel’s justice ministry as a member of its new Oversight Board, which will be able to overturn the company’s own content moderation decisions.

Under Emi Palmor, who headed the justice ministry from 2014 until she was dismissed from her post last year, the Israeli ministry “petitioned Facebook to censor legitimate speech of human rights defenders and journalists because it was deemed politically undesirable,” insisted Palestinian civil society groups in May, writes The Electronic Intifada, an online Chicago-based publication covering the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.

The groups slammed Facebook’s choice of Palmor to the international panel that will take content moderation decisions for the world’s largest social media platform.

Palmor, they warn, could potentially “muzzle freedom of expression” on the platform, censoring human rights defenders, particularly Palestinian, Arab and Muslim.

The Palestine Digital Rights Coalition, the Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council and the Palestinian Non-Governmental Organizations Network have been quoted as urging Facebook to “consider the grave consequences that electing Emi Palmor may have particularly on Palestinian human rights defenders and on freedom of expression online in defense of Palestinian rights.”

Palmor was employed as a top civil servant during the term in office of Ayelet Shaked as Minister of Justice.

Under Palmor’s oversight, say the groups, the ministry established a cyber unit whose efforts resulted in the removal of tens of thousands of Palestinian posts from social media platforms, with Adalah, a group advocating for the rights of Palestinians in Israel, calling into question the legality of the unit’s practices.

According to Adalah, with “no transparency or legal procedure whatsoever”, the unit directs requests to the Israeli state attorney, demanding that “Facebook and Google remove, restrict or suspend access to certain content, pages or users.”

Adalah claims the procedure leaves users no possibility to defend themselves against allegations that their posts were “illegal or warranted removal.”

The Oversight Board

On 6 May Facebook revealed the names of the first 20 members of its international Oversight Board, an independent body that will be tasked with specific content moderation decisions.

The board will govern appeals regarding content takedowns from Facebook and Instagram users, receiving cases through a content management system linked to Facebook’s own platforms.

The members – a diverse group containing lawyers, journalists, human rights advocates and other academics with expertise in digital rights, religious freedom, content moderation, internet censorship and civil rights – will discuss the case as a group before issuing a final say regarding whether the content should be allowed to stay up or not.

“We are all committed to freedom of expression within the framework of international norms of human rights,” the four co-chairs of the board – Catalina Botero-Marino, Jamal Greene, Michael W McConnell and Helle Thorning-Schmidt – wrote in a New York Times op-ed introducing themselves to the public on 6 May. “We will make decisions based on those principles and on the effects on Facebook users and society, without regard to the economic, political or reputational interests of the company.”

In November 2018, in the wake of a New York Times report that slammed Facebook for social media misuses, the company announced the establishment of an independent panel.

Helle Thorning-Schmidt, former Prime Minister of Denmark and one of the board’s four co-chairs, was quoted by CNBC as saying:

“Up until now some of the most difficult decisions about content have been made by Facebook and you could say Mark Zuckerberg… Facebook has decided to change that.”

Set to eventually comprise around 40 members, the board will begin hearing cases in the coming months.

Amid a slew of charges of bias and politically censoring content, the move is seen by many as potentially able to help Facebook avoid the accusations which it emphatically rejects.

Last December, Facebook pledged the board $130 million in funding, with the money set to cover operational costs for at least six years.

In January, however, Facebook outlined the extent to which it remained in control, in a 46-page document.

Facebook outlined the powers and limitations of the board, stating that the board’s decisions do not necessarily set precedents that the company would be called upon to adhere to in the future, and the board is limited when it comes to content it can address.

May 28, 2020 - Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , ,

2 Comments »

  1. seems appropriate.
    isnt spybook a mossad operation?

    Like

    Comment by 5 dancing shlomos | May 28, 2020 | Reply

  2. Keeping kosher on FB, no doubt.

    https://youtu.be/x_AJWZ01X94 We’ll see how Barr/Trump approach the Israeli control of FB.

    Like

    Comment by rediscover911com | May 28, 2020 | Reply


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