WARNING: democracy is at risk

Is it possible to have a free and fair election in the age of Facebook? Already, the platform is being used to suppress African-American, Black and Latinx votes. Its tools are being used to spread lies and to enable private militias to organize voting station protests. 

We need your help to try to hold it to account. 

Sign our letter to the Oversight Board: Uphold the Trump ban

NOMINATE NEW MEMBERS: The Real Facebook Oversight Board is forming a Membership and Representation Sub-Committee made up of representatives from all inhabited continental regions. This sub-committee will consider all nominations with the aim of ensuring a truly representative membership distribution. Please fill in this form with your nomination.

A Facebook emergency

In 2016, we didn’t understand how Facebook was being used to subvert the presidential election. This time, there’s no excuse. A single, unelected man rules Facebook’s vast empire and is accountable to no-one. Time and time again, Facebook has refused to respond to public concerns. 

What can we do?

In November 2018, Mark Zuckerberg announced a new ‘independent’ body to provide outside oversight and in May this year the first 20 members of its new Oversight Board were announced. But it’s still not operational and even if it was, it only has limited powers to rule on whether content that was taken down should go back up. And once a case has been referred to it, this self-styled ‘Supreme Court’ can take up to 90 days to reach a verdict. This doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of the many urgent risks the platform poses to the upcoming election. 

So, instead, we’re launching our own Oversight Board. The Real Facebook Oversight Board. We’re not waiting for another election to go wrong. We believe accountability in real-time is vital. 

Press

TODAY”S PRESS RELEASE: FOR RELEASE 12PM EST January 12, 2021 

Interviews, Video Available

Contact: media@the-citizens.com

Real Facebook Oversight Board Demands Permanent Removal of Donald Trump, Accuses Facebook of Continuing to Incite Violence

Leading academics, experts and civil rights leaders call on Facebook to delete Donald Trump’s page, review other world leaders’ content & accuses Zuckerberg & Sandberg of having ‘blood on their hands’ 

The Real Facebook Oversight Board convened an emergency session today in the wake of last week’s violence in Washington to demand that Facebook permanently removes Donald Trump from its platform and to warn that the platform is still being used to incite violence. The board issued a declaration with (4) demands for Facebook. 

Demands made by the board which includes Facebook’s ex-head of election integrity for political advertising, the former President of Estonia and the president of the Anti-Defamation League included:

  • The permanent removal of Donald Trump from Facebook & Instagram & the deletion of all posts & content.
  • An immediate audit by an independent body of all other public figures and world leaders whose content has been flagged for inciting violence.
  • The immediate removal of all posts related to ‘Stop the Steal’ and similar that are still inciting violence ahead of next week’s inauguration. 
  • A public codified system that makes transparent what Facebook’s system of enforcement is. There needs to be a clearly defined strike-out system in line with Twitter’s Civic Integrity update yesterday. 

The board also appealed to Facebook advertisers, shareholders and employees to demand institutional change from Facebook including the possible removal of Zuckerberg as CEO, noting that Sheryl Sandberg’s comments yesterday that the Capitol riots were not organized on Facebook was ‘patently, self-evidently untrue’ and that the platform had been ‘the single most important incubator of Qanon conspiracy theories’ over the last year. 

Mr. Zuckerberg’s documented strategies of political appeasement to Trump and his right-wing collaborators make him an accessory to criminal and seditious political violence. There is no way to whitewash his culpability,” said Shoshana Zuboff, author, The Age of Surveillance Capitalism; Professor emerita, Harvard Business School; member, Real Facebook Oversight Board. “Accountability must be the price he pays for illegitimate but absolute power over global social discourse and the profits reaped from Facebook’s destructive surveillance economics.”

A statement from the Real Facebook Oversight Board said:

“The Real Facebook Oversight Board was launched in September 2020 when 25 academics and experts came together to warn that Facebook was being used to facilitate a coup d’etat. That is exactly what we saw happen this week. This has to be a wake-up call to America and the world. This can never be allowed to happen ever again.

“Donald Trump has repeatedly used Facebook and other social media platforms to incite violence. His actions this week were not new. Facebook’s decision to ban him, first for 24 hours, and then indefinitely has been driven not by adherence to its own community standards but political expediency. 

“What’s worse is that Sheryl Sandberg is now spreading misinformation about Facebook’s role in the events of the last week. And news outlets are reporting a call for armed protests in all 50 states. Social media has never been more dangerous

“It is time to define responsibility and hold these companies accountable for how they aid and abet criminal activity,” said Yael Eisenstat, ex-global head of elections integrity for political advertising at Facebook. “Despite huge swaths of society demanding action, Mark Zuckerberg did not choose to act against Donald Trump until after the U.S. Congress certified Joe Biden as the next President of the United States. It is hard to view this decision, and the timing, as anything other than trying to cozy up to power, as opposed to some form of responsible stewardship of our democracy.”

“Black and brown people have been victims of Facebook-baked violence and harassment for years, yet it took a literal attempt to overthrow the United States Government for Facebook to act,” said Jessica J. González of the organization Free Press, who chaired the call. “While Donald Trump has been banned indefinitely, harmful actors continue to spread hate on the platform.”

“Trump is just one man. Multiple other individuals, across the world, have used and are still using Facebook to incite violence, said the Real Facebook Oversight Board in their declaration. The days of an internet Wild West are over. The events of last week must be a catalyst for change. 

The Real Facebook Oversight Board will now be adjudicating it’s first cases, hearing the case to ban Steve Bannon who has repeatedly used the platform to incite violence as well as debating action against anti-COVID vaccination conspiracy theorists seeding misinformation on the platform. 

Shireen Mitchell, Founder of Stop Online Violence Against Women Inc, added: “The events at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021 and Mark Zuckerberg’s sensitivity with President Trump’s use of his platform has confirmed what we’ve always known; this is not a platform that protects all users. When Black women can be suspended or banned for typing “white people” in a post, while others get away with statements such as “shoot them all,” there’s a disconnect. We demand that Zuckerburg and Facebook ensure that they actually remove all individuals and groups who violate their terms of service in a consistent, unbiased manner. If Zuckerberg is unwilling or incapable of doing this he should step down.

Jonathan Greeblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, said: “Facebook’s extraordinary amplification of violence and extremism is a profoundly harmful consequence of their global scale and concentrated power, and a business model that depends upon optimizing for user engagement. Facebook – and all platforms – need real and significant accountability, oversight and transparency.”

Interviews available:contact media@the-citizens.com or 917-825-1289. For more information follow us on twitter. Below is the Real Facebook Oversight Board’s full proclamation, as well as affiliations of participants.

Today’s Participants: 

  • Madihha Ahussain – Special Counsel for Anti-Muslim Bigotry, Muslim Advocates
  • Linda Bonyo – Founder, Lawyers Hub/Tech for Justice
  • Heidi Beirich – Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer, Global Project Against Hate and Extremism, Inc.
  • Damian Collins – British MP, member of Grand International Committee on Disinformation & Fake News 
  • Laura Edelson – Online Ads Transparency Project. New York University
  • Yael Eisenstat – former Global Head of Election Integrity Operations of Political Advertising  at Facebook
  • Reed Galen – Co-Founder, The Lincoln Project
  • Jessica Gonzalez – Co-CEO of Free Press (Stop Hate for Profit)
  • Jonathan Greenblatt – CEO of Anti-Defamation League (Stop Hate for Profit) 
  • Toomas Hendrick Ilves – former President of Estonia
  • Shireen Mitchell – founder of Digital Sistas and Stop Online Violence Against Women Inc
  • Jim Steyer – founder & CEO of Common Sense Media  
  • Shoshana Zuboff – Professor Emerita, Harvard Business School, author, Age of Surveillance Capitalism

#

Declaration of the Real Facebook Oversight Board – 12 January 2021 

Donald Trump has repeatedly used Facebook and other social media platforms to incite violence. His actions this week were not new. Facebook’s decision to ban him, first for 24 hours, and then indefinitely has all the appearances of being driven not by adherence to its own community standards but political expediency.

This can never happen again.

The Real Facebook Oversight Board demands:

  • The permanent removal of Donald Trump from Facebook & Instagram & the deletion of all posts & content.
  • An immediate audit by an independent body of all other public figures and world leaders whose content has been flagged for inciting violence.
  • The immediate removal of all posts related to ‘Stop the Steal’ and similar that are still inciting violence ahead of next week’s inauguration. 
  • A public codified system that makes transparent what Facebook’s system of enforcement is. There needs to be a clearly defined strike-out system in line with Twitter’s Civic Integrity update yesterday. 

We also call on Facebook  advertisers, shareholders and employees to demand institutional change from Facebook including the possible removal of Zuckerberg as CEO. 

The days of an internet Wild West are over. The events of last week must be a catalyst for change. 

About the Real Facebook Oversight Board

The Real Facebook Oversight Board has been formed as an emergency response to the ongoing harms on Facebook’s platforms. Over two dozen academics and experts have joined forces with civil rights leaders to respond to the critical threats posed by Facebook’s unchecked power. We will bring and hear cases, drive open, transparent and informed debate,  issue clear, achievable demands and ask Facebook to implement them. And we will continue to demand that Mark Zuckerberg takes responsibility for Facebook’s actions.

It’s time to take the fight to Facebook

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