Blue body bags lined the curb outside Facebook’s office in Washington, DC on Wednesday, each bearing a sticker depicting Facebook’s ‘thumbs-up’ logo and the text “disinfo kills.” The protest was staged by a group calling itself The Real Facebook Oversight Board (RFOB), which was launched in response to Facebook establishing a supposedly neutral “oversight board” in 2018 to guide the company’s content moderation and censorship policies.
Staffed by journalists, left-wing activists, and censorship advocates like the Anti-Defamation League’s Jonathan Greenblatt, the RFOB wants Facebook to be even more aggressive in tackling what it calls “disinformation” and “the immediate risk to US democracy.”
The protest on Wednesday coincided with the the RFOB’s release of a report demanding Facebook disable post engagement on content from “proven disinformation superspreaders” – 12 accounts that The Center for Countering Digital Hate, another activist group, claims are behind nearly two-thirds of all anti-vaccine content on the platform. The Biden administration has also cited these same 12 accounts and to colluding with Facebook to have their posts censored.
However, the RFOB goes a step further, with its report demanding the censorship of posts from Fox News and four conservative pundits – Ben Shapiro, Sean Hannity, Franklin Graham and Dan Bongino – for “disinformation” and “hate speech.” Posts cited as examples included Bongino criticizing Olympic athlete Gwen Berry for “hat[ing] America” (“disinformation and hate speech”), and Shapiro praising parents opposed to the teaching of critical race theory in schools (“disinformation”).
The report concluded with several pages of analysis by Media Matters, a left-wing activist group, calling for further censorship of pro-Donald Trump posts and videos on Facebook.
Facebook is not opposed to censoring supposed “disinformation,” and already removes posts it claims promote “misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines.” The platform also has dedicated staff who weed out so-called “conspiracy networks,” deploys artificial intelligence to fight “hate speech,” and maintains its ban on former president Trump on dubious “public safety” grounds.
Nevertheless, the company reckons the RFOB is asking too much, and spokesman Andy Stone accused the body bag protesters of engaging in “cheap stunts.”
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