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Conservatives denounce Facebook’s new ‘Oversight Board’ for judging ‘free expression’

The international 'Oversight Board' is packed with leftists. It will wield massive power to judge what is acceptable free speech.
Thu May 7, 2020 - 8:35 pm EST
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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 7, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — A coalition of more than 60 conservative organizations has responded to Facebook’s announcement of the creation of an international “Oversight Board” — packed with leftists and those with ties to globalist George Soros — and which will wield massive power to judge what is acceptable free speech. 

“It is terrifying to imagine how a powerful, leftist group like this might ... 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,” wrote the group of conservatives, known as the Free Speech Alliance (FSA), of which LifeSiteNews is a member.  

“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,” continues the statement.  “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.”

According to Oversightboard.com, the Oversight Board was created to “help Facebook answer some of the most difficult questions around freedom of expression online: what to take down, what to leave up, and why.”

“The board uses its independent judgment to support people’s right to free expression and ensure those rights are being adequately respected. The board’s decisions to uphold or reverse Facebook’s content decisions will be binding, meaning will have to implement them, unless doing so could violate the law,” the website adds.

The newly formed group of twenty members has been described as a “Supreme Court–style body” that “will be up and running by the fall, hearing cases and issuing decisions on what content should or shouldn’t be removed from the world’s largest social network,” according to Protocol.com.

That means they will begin to exercise their power to judge “what content to take down or leave up” just as the 2020 presidential campaign season reaches its climax.   

Of the four co-chairs, only one, Stanford Law School professor Michael McConnell, is seen to be somewhat conservative.  The other three are “reliably liberal.”

  • Catalina Botero-Marino, dean of the Universidad de los Andes Faculty of Law of Colombia, is 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,” wrote the FSA. 
  • Columbia Law professor Jamal Greene was an aide to Senator Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) during the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings.
  • Former prime minister of Denmark Helle Thorning-Schmidt declared she “does not believe in eternal life, salvation or heaven and hell,” according to the publication Kristligt Dagblad. Thorning-Schmidt is virulently anti-Trump. She recently indicated on Twitter that she wishes Barack Obama were still president of the United States.

“Co-chair of Facebook’s new ‘independent’ Oversight Board (Censorship Overlords) wishes Obama was still President,” tweeted Mark Dice.

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“Another ‘fair and impartial’ member of Facebook's new Oversight Board who will decide which uses get banned and what content gets censored,” noted Mark Dice of board member Nighat Dad, who said in 2016, “God forbid if Trump becomes the president, this will be my last visit to US.”

Others constituting the new board have shown great antipathy to President Donald Trump, his children, and conservatives in general. 

Board member Pamela Karlan was forced to apologize for a gratuitous attack on President Trump’s young son, Barron, during the Democrat-sponsored impeachment hearings in the House of Representatives last December.    

“Democrat ‘witness’ Pamela Karlan is completely UNHINGED,” tweeted Steve Guest.

“She is now attacking Donald Trump's 13 year old son Barron Trump in an attempt to smear President Trump,” he added.

Alan Rusbridger, former editor of The Guardian, has seemingly gone from supporting a free press to endorsing censorship, according to the FSA. He tweeted in March that the press should shut down President Donald Trump’s coronavirus press conferences.

Another board member, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Tawakkol Karman, said in an interview with the Spanish daily El País that she does “not trust Trump because I do not trust racist people,” according to the FSA statement. 

“It’s not just what the members oppose that is the problem. It’s what, and who, they support,” wrote the FSA, pointing out strong ties of some board members to George Soros.

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. ...

Soros has far more influence with [the new Facebook] 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, [the conservative and the libertarian] would likely cancel each other out. …

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.

A “big, big mission”

In an op-ed published in The New York Times, the four co-chairs described the power being handed to them by the social media giant: “The oversight board will focus on the most challenging content issues for Facebook, including in areas such as hate speech, harassment, and protecting people’s safety and privacy. It will make final and binding decisions on whether specific content should be allowed or removed from Facebook and Instagram (which Facebook owns).”

That power could spell trouble for conservatives, who find their voices increasingly pushed out of social media’s public square.

The significance of the new board’s “Big Brother”–type power may well eventually extend beyond Facebook to all the social media giants. 

“The board isn't just for Facebook. In designing this new organization, Facebook's leaders deliberately structured it so that it could have a life beyond the company,” explained Protocol.com. “To do that, they formed a separate legal trust with an initial $130 million investment from Facebook. But they also empowered that trust to both accept funding from sources outside Facebook and to form companies of its own. That structure would ensure Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg couldn't just shut down the board if he didn't like its decisions. But it also opens up the possibility that the trust might some day spin off additional oversight boards for, say, YouTube, Twitter or any other platform that makes content moderation decisions.”

“That was conscious on our part in building the trust,” Brent Harris, Facebook’s director of governance and strategic initiatives, told Protocol. “It has been built in a way that it can go beyond Facebook and go to more parts of the industry.”

“This is a big, big mission,” said former prime minister Thorning-Schmidt on a call with reporters Wednesday. “We are basically building a new model for platform governance.”   

The FSA offered some advice to the Oversight Board at the conclusion of its statement: “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,” they added. 

Here is a list of the members of the Free Speech Alliance (FSA):

  • 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 Center

  • 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

  • Tony Perkins  

President        

Family Research Council

  • 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

  • Carrie Lukas   

President

Independent Women's Forum

  • 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.

  • Preston Noell 

President        

The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property

  • 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

  • Joseph Farah  

CEO and Editor         

WND

  • Amy Kremer  

Co-founder & Chairman        

Women for Trump

  • Jessica Jensen 

Chief of Staff

Young America's Foundation


  big tech, censorship, facebook, free speech, free speech alliance, george soros, mark zuckerberg

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