The Daily Beast: Facebook’s Toothless, Authoritarian ‘Oversight Board’ Is Downright Trumpy

May 5, 2021 Anti-Monopoly Policies & EnforcementTech

To listen to the news Wednesday morning, you might think that a Court had made a decision, one worthy of the analysis of legal scholars, plumbing it for precedent and meaning.

In fact, what happened is that Facebook—much like many other big corporations that pay outside consultants huge fees to help make decisions—hired a bunch of elites with good CVs. And then—like many corporate consultancies–it gave them a tiny little slice of corporate decision-making to review. The grandiosely named “Oversight Board” which“ruled” today that Donald Trump can’t yet rejoin Facebook and Instagram—actually lacks any capacity to understand the financial motivations and metrics behind Facebook’s decisions, or to mandate a different business model. It is simply corporate consultancy rebranded as an “Oversight Board.”

The difference between this and most corporate consultancies is that it is first and foremost a public relations stunt, one designed to make people feel like Facebook somehow has a serious self-regulatory regime as news outlets report on the Board’s “ruling.”

We should not make a bunch of paid corporate consultants into a Court. No matter how lovely and thick the theatrical curtain put between Zuckerberg and the consultants, they are not publicly accountable and there’s real harm in normalizing the idea of a Court that is not, in fact, a Court but a wholly private set of contracts.