A Nobel Peace Prize-winning activist from Yemen has been chosen to sit on the all-powerful Facebook Content Oversight Board, which regulates speech on the platform.
Tawakkol Karman has been picked as one of the 20 new members of the board despite her past statements praising the radical Islamist group, the Muslim Brotherhood. But she has a different “viewpoint” that Facebook wants to include.
This oversight board will be nearly all-powerful.
The board will operate independentlyof Facebook to review some of the company’s most complex calls over whether to take down potentially harmful and often polarizing posts on Facebook and Instagram. It will also serve as a de facto Supreme Court when Facebook users protest the company’s removal decisions, capable of overruling even Zuckerberg on content matters.
Would you want a Muslim Brotherhood sympathizer being able to vote on whether your content is “acceptable”?
Senator Josh Hawley is dubious.
“This is how powerful @Facebook is, how much speech it controls, how much of our time & attention it claims: it now has a special censorship committee to decide what speech can stay & what should go,” Hawley wrote. “Facebook basically making the case it should be broken up.”
Karman’s support for the Brotherhood includes approval of their ideology.
A report by MEMRI noted that in an interview on BBC Arabic TV on September 15, 2013, Karman said, “The most important achievement of the January  Revolution [in Egypt] was the abolishment of the emergency law. Unfortunately, the July 3  coup reinstated that law. The Muslim Brotherhood and its supporters, who oppose the military rule, are engaged in a legendary struggle, which they are waging with their blood, their resolute steadfastness, and their belief that they will restore the revolution to its true path.”
Tell me this statement by the board co-chairs isn’t enough to make your blood run cold.
Defining the mission of the board, they wrote, “We know that social media can spread speech that is hateful, harmful and deceitful. In recent years, the question of what content should stay up or come down on platforms like Facebook, and who should decide this, has become increasingly urgent.
“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,” the statement continued. “It will make final and binding decisions on whether specific content should be allowed or removed from Facebook and Instagram.”
The question isn’t whether some speech is “hateful, harmful and deceitful.” The question is who gets to define it. And I am extremely uncomfortable with a supporter of the radical, violent Muslim Brotherhood passing judgment on anything I would write.
Haters will be haters. Banning their content won’t mean they will disappear. The way to deal with hate speech is to publish it far and wide so that people can decide for themselves whether to agree with it or not.
Instead, Mark Zuckerberg has bowed to the anti-free speech crowd and Facebook will now make sure that no one gets offended by their content. They will tell us what’s acceptable and what’s not acceptable speech. This is exactly what the founders who wrote the First Amendment feared the most and we are going to be forced to live their worst nightmares.