Facebook Inc’s oversight board on Sunday said that the social media giant’s policies around banning controversial content are a “shambles” and the firm needed to introduce regulations for strict enforcement of credible and authentic information. Michael McConnell’s remarks came as Facebook’s advisory panel decided to keep the indefinite ban on former President Donald Trump’s Instagram and Facebook account over inciting violence at the capitol on January 6. In a televised statement, McConnell told Fox News Sunday, “Their rules are a shambles, they are not transparent. They are unclear. They are internally inconsistent.” He continued, “We gave them a series of recommendations about how to make their rules clearer and more consistent.” McConnell indicated that Facebook’s content oversight committee would work on major reform policies to regulate the content on its platform, saying: “The hope is that they will use the next few months to do that and then when they come back and look at this, they will be able to apply those rules in a straightforward way.”
Referring to the ban placed on ex-US leader and commander-in-chief Donald Trump’s account, McConnell said that his was the “plain violation” of Facebook’s rules as he had expressed inclination and support for the revolting mob that led to the January 6 insurrection. The Facebook oversight board member added, that Trump “issued statements which were just egging on — with perfunctory asking for peace, but mostly, he was just egging them on to continue.” The ex-federal judge furthermore said that he had handed the social media giant a certain amount of time to get “their house in order.” Adding that Facebook exercises “too much of power” and likewise the leaders, McConnell said, “Trump is subject to the same rules on Facebook as everyone else, and the Oversight Board held that this was in fact a violation and thus Facebook was justified in taking them down.”
“What we are trying to do is bring some of the most important principles of the First Amendment, of free expression law globally, into this operation. Facebook exercises too much power. They are arbitrary. They are inconsistent. And it is the job of the Oversight Board to try to bring some discipline to that process,” McConnell, Facebook Oversight Board chair said in live stream televised address on Sunday.
Strict policies to combat ‘disinformation’
Earlier, the White House said that the social media platforms such as Facebook need to have strict policies on combating disinformation and misinformation — especially related to life-threatening issues like COVID-19 and vaccinations that continue to proliferate on their platforms. At a presser, the White House secretary Jen Psaki was asked by a reporter about Facebook’s decision to keep the ban on the former President Donald Trump’s account, which was placed after he allegedly incited the January 6 insurrection. Psaki was asked about its impact on the First Amendment rights as a US citizen. “The President’s view is that the major platforms have a responsibility related to the health and safety of all Americans to stop amplifying untrustworthy content, disinformation, and misinformation, especially COVID-19 and elections,” the White House Press secretary said.