A member of the Facebook oversight board that upheld the ban against former President Donald Trump on Wednesday – while also ordering a new review – is ready to hold "Facebook's feet to the fire" and make the social media giant a "little bit less loaded" in political ideology.
"There are Democrats who think that Facebook leans and supports conservatives, and was responsible in large part for Donald Trump's election," Stanford law professor Michael McConnell, a member of the Facebook oversight board, told Wednesday's "Rob Schmitt Tonight" on Newsmax TV. "Everybody has their own point of view on this, and the problem is that Facebook, they're so standard less. They operate in such a way with so little transparency that there is no control on them.
"Now, the point of the Facebook oversight board is to try to bring some consistency, including ideological consistency, to this operation. I don't defend Facebook. That's not my job. That's not my point.
"My point is the oversee Facebook and try to make things a little bit less arbitrary and a little bit less loaded."
The oversight board decided Wednesday morning to uphold the site's ban on Trump's account, but it also ordered a new review of the "indefinite suspension" to take place within 6 months, leaving the door open slightly for reinstatement.
McConnell rebuked Facebook for tossing the "hot potato" to the board instead of dealing with it on its own.
"They acted under the under real emergency circumstances," McConnell told host Rob Schmitt. "They took down some posts, they announced that they would continue the suspension for what they said was indefinitely, but at least 2 weeks.
"But what if that sound like to you? That sounds to me as if within about 2 weeks, they would consider what the future would bring.
"Instead of that, they just – without any further consideration – kept him off the platform and tossed the hot potato to the oversight board, hoping, I think, that we would take the heat; that we would make the decision for them.
"But that is not our job. We're not appointed to be content moderators or Internet cops. Our job is to hold Facebook's feet to the fire and make sure that they apply their rules in a transparent, clear fashion, and that they rewrite the rule in a way that enhances clarity so that users know where they are."
As critical as McConnell was of Facebook, he did give it credit for permitting what he believes is a truly independent oversight board.
"So Facebook initiated this," McConnell said. "This is the Facebook project, but what they realized is that they lack credibility, rightly so, and it's important for them to have an independent overseer.
"And so they appointed a bunch of people who are no patsies for Facebook. I mean, there are major people who their entire careers have been criticizing Facebook, on this board, and we're not answerable to them. They are not the ones who pay us. It is true that they set the thing up, but they set it up to be independent."
Earlier Wednesday, McConnell admitted to Schmitt in a phone interview that Facebook has been operating in a partisan manner.
"The problem is when you don't do not have clarity, consistency, and transparency, there's no way to know," McConnell said. "And certainly many people in the United States and around the world strongly suspect that Facebook is behaving in a partisan manner."
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