How to Make Facebook’s ‘Supreme Court’ Work

The idea of a body that will decide what kind of content is allowed on the site is promising — but only if it’s done right.

Comments: 73

  1. So lying Markey has a "new" solution to get out of real regulation: "Facebook’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, has announced a plan to create an independent body to make decisions about what kinds of content his site’s users will be allowed to post." Listen up, Markey, you and facebook are not a nation unto yourself. Regulation is the work of OUR United States of America government and you have gotten away with stealing OUR information and using it amass wealth and to try to destroy OUR country to satisfy your demented, morally/ethically bankrupt, socially unconscious ego and pocket long enough. NOW is the time for OUR regulatory agencies and government offices to seriously regulate and tax facebook and all other social media to protect OUR privacy and OUR country. Mark Zuckerberg is a liar and has been one since day one. BIG Wall Street corrupt "investors" taught him well. Time for WE THE PEOPLE to teach him and all corrupt Robber Barons how WE want OUR world to work. NOW.

  2. @njglea Are you sure this is the best time to trust the Government?

  3. @njglea And, anyway, not all "Robber Barons" were necessarily evil. See 'Andrew Carnegie'.

  4. Just stop using social media. It’s not that hard. Talking to other people directly is still a capability of human beings.

  5. Two names come to mind if, in fact, Mark Zuckerberg goes forward with an independent group, similar to a Supreme Court, to review and make decisions about content. One is Anthony Kennedy, former Supreme Court Justice. Though I disagree with many of his decisions, he knows how a Court would function. The other is Eric Holder, former Attorney General. He too is well versed and experienced in the courts and could provide invaluable input. Will Mark Zuckerberg seek out individuals of this caliber? That remains to be seen, but to date Facebook and its leadership are an abject failure regarding the management of content. Particularly fake news.

  6. @cherrylog754 You forgot that Holder said the big banks were too big to prosecute. And you want to put him in as one of the "Supreme Court" ?

  7. if this works at Facebook (and maybe even if it doesn't), it's an idea that should be widely implemented. Our current disinformation crisis demands it.

  8. It seems to me that the difficulty for a Supreme Court of arbitration on the acceptability of Facebook posts most difficult task is deciding what kind of entity Facebook actually is. The least intrusive "constitutional" rules to operate by might be those that govern other media, such as newspapers and TV. This would mostly limit libel and permit offensive posts that aren't libelous. Truthfulness in news articles could be another target, but, as we've seen with presidential tweets, one man's truth isn't necessarily another's. A court doesn't itself usually do investigations and so deciding what is truthful and what isn't would be beyond its scope. A "constitution" for Facebook that the "Supreme Court" could use as a standard to evaluate content would be useful, but very difficult to write. Again, minimalism is better. Too many people are offended by other's honest opinions and too many words, phrases and images that are nearly mainstream and may be used innocently are labeled as "dog whistles" by groups that are subject to prejudice. What will be left over is the problem of untruthful news posts, i.e. "fake news." Courts are not investigative bodies and the only thing a court might be able to do is decide if news that was found by Facebook itself to be a lie was circulated with malicious intent. But someone other than the court would need to present that evidence. This idea is perhaps a good one, but it won't solve problems that are inherent in Facebook's very nature.

  9. Well, this is far better than arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. This is electing a captain, and a set of mates to guide the sinking ship towards its icy resting place. Yesterday's column by Bret Stephens dealt with Platonic influences on Zuckerberg, but the one Greek concept which is most appropriate is Hubris. Who exactly does this Z'berg think he is, and how exactly is he planning to avoid the Ice'berg? By his personal Supreme Court? It's the world's biggest ad agency, and it sells what? Yeah, you and me.

  10. Bottom line: it's not feasible or workable.

  11. I'm what you would call "middle aged", , my mother uses FB and loves it, my son says only old people use FB now, I don't use it at all and never will. The demographics will eventually take care of FB. My big concern is Amazon, while it's a great place to buy Christmas presents and avoid crowds, I see it eventually broken into smaller companies as it becomes a monopoly. An Amazon monopoly could be a very scary thing in the future if you think about it.

  12. Craigslist took down its "personals" section as it found that it could not reasonably police it and there were serious consequences from misuse. There would be no shame in Facebook getting out of politics and focusing on the social bonds that it was designed to promote, paid for by advertising products and services. Such a step might even be applauded.

  13. I'll give it 10 years before this "court" is corrupted by money from corporations.

  14. @bernard Droege 10 days is more like it.

  15. A truly bad idea in sheepish clothing. This is nothing more than a facet of a PR campaign to distract from the train wreck Sandberg and Zuckerberg engineered. How about just managing your behemoth with integrity? And a healthy dose of government regulation. This "Supreme Court of Facebook" gimmick is just part of a broad effort to avoid the public accountability that can come only with oversight, controls and, if necessary, evaporation. We often forget that we citizens license corporations to operate. They have no divine right.

  16. This is the dumbest idea I have recently read. What makes Facebook popular? Being able to share anything at anytime. Suppressing people’s thoughts by filtering them through a group of “folks” will destroy Facebook in less than a year. Good riddance.

  17. The first thing let's do is get George Soros on their Board.

  18. "The Zucc" swings and misses, again. Perhaps the conversion should be more fundamental. Let's get real. Does this (or any) social media platform have a net-positive, legitimate, purposeful place in our society? If not, will it ever be able to? Is the business of selling people's data for ad revenue simply flawed at a fundamental level? Was our first decade of en-masse social media a honeymoon phase?

  19. All comment postings, whether facebook, Twitter, You Tube, email etc. should be controlled by law by a web version of something like the US post office and require postage per addressee (actual or implied). Then we will have a self regulating system. And it will have no advantage over the well proven and politically stable system of writing books or sending out newsletters. The Supreme Court has already stated the money equals speech. So a constitutionally sound law would be a slam dunk to pass and sustain.

  20. This sounds like a good first step towards censorship. I'm so glad the elites have taken up this cause it is so important. In a Democracy like ours, the masses need to be told how to think. They can't think for themselves. It is up to the elites to tell them exactly how to think and what is right and wrong.

  21. "Promising"? Give me a break. Why don't we have a "committee" decide what's acceptable for all--e.g., WP, NYT, LAT et al. Same, same. Think of reporters and editors as being content providers, FB members--i.e., grand internet ASB Club--who all have innate biases and predilections favored by their controllers. Just another means of the Grand Collective to control the voices within--totalitarian stomping by another word.

  22. Ms. Klonick and Mr. Kari miss the point. Hate (or otherwise offensive) speech is not what my main concern would be. The First Amendment protects hate speech. Hateful sites simply need to be identified and monitored by the appropriate law enforcement agencies. What must be eliminated from social media are all the lies and half-truths perpetuated by propaganda sites determined to move public opinion in specific directions. I would propose very clear, and easily recognizable, boundaries between facts and opinions. I would also make the creation of a “bot” algorithm a felony punishable with prison time not simply fines.

  23. Facebook is "a public commons" in the same sense that the town square in pre-revolutionary America was. The use of the public commons by anyone, for public speech, was fundamental to the original design. The free speech doctrine assumed a few common law ideas: No inciting to riot; no slander; no speech against the King. Facebook's "public commons" has been involved in breaking these common law rules, as was the pre-revolutionary American town square. Our dilemma is the same as pre-WW II Germany, and we have the same result: A tin horn "Nationalist" leading our government. Facebook give every jerk "black ops" in the world a place to peddle treason, lie about national neighbors, reach out to the mentally damaged terrorists (of all flavors) and yet hide their identity. The pre-revolutionary "patriots" could be identified, whereas the "black ops" often go UN-noticed. Facebook must ID (no mistakes) all users, and then apply a code of conduct that matches the laws of social conduct. I doubt this can happen.

  24. @Mike W: Congress 'suspended that'. I don't know what that means. Please fill me in? Exactly what was suspended and for who? You say certain liabilities (for slandering) were suspended? And was this something applied strictly to on-line 'publishers', or to any published material? Is Facebook a 'public commons'? I really don't know. Somewhere at the height of shopping mall culture people said the same thing, but the courts (as I recall) declared malls private property whose owners had all rights to bar protests. U.S. courts have mostly favored property over people. Or so it seems. At the least it's contentious. Anyway, I remember the mall business. Thanks.

  25. @Mike W I really don't know or understand the legalities. A town square was literally a public place. I recall that shopping malls began being referred as "today's town squares" as 'mall culture' rose to significance, yet courts decided they were 'private property', and their owners could ban political protest. They're privately owned 'public spaces' in the sense that restaurants in the south were, a designation that made anti-segregation laws apply to them. 'Publishers', it is my impression, have certain rights and privileges, and also responsibilities (liabilities). I don't know WHAT Facebook is considered.

  26. @Esther Tolkoff No part of my note mentions "Congress 'suspended that'". @Hoarse Whisperer mentions the courts, but not congress. "Public Commons" (per @Hoarse Whisperer) seems to have been evaded as "literally a public place." for malls because they are private property. The argument was: "They're privately owned 'public spaces' in the sense that restaurants in the south were, a designation that made anti-segregation laws apply to them." I would agree that the "... owners could ban political protest." However, I would also submit that the state's designation of Facebook as a "Public Place" is sufficient to make it a "Public Commons" in the "restaurant" sense. That said, the state faces the dilemma of separating freedom of speech from (at a minimum) hate speech as much as Facebook does on its' private (but publicly used) property. As I said above, I doubt that this can happen.

  27. "By Kate Klonick and Thomas Kadri Dr. Klonick and Mr. Kadri are lawyers." Great! A bunch of technology illiterates are talking about fixing something they know little about. They can just copy what Europe does and get a better solution than anyone they will propose. Also they are fighting the last war. Why don't they address the upcoming one involving the impact of artificial intelligence? The answer to that is simple. They have no clue about what is going to happen next.

  28. Let me get this straight. We are supposed to be angry at Google because they are working with the Chinese government to censor based on content. We are supposed to be mad at Facebook because they are not working with the American and European governments to censor based on content. Cognitive dissonance is giving me a headache.

  29. This is absurd. The right solution is to restore to online publishers the full liability that routinely applies to ink-on-paper publishers even now. Congress suspended that, without thought for the implications of publishing without editing everything which shows up. Now we see the result. No editing means every lie, every threat, every defamation, every copyright violation gets published—with no practical remedy for anyone damaged along the way. The best way to fix that is to require that a publisher with self-interest to protect be required to read everything before it is published. Enforce that not with government meddling, but with civil liability. In short, simply restore to the internet the publishing regime which prevailed nation-wide previously, and which was almost universally credited with making American publishing an exemplar of freedom, and an ornament of civilization.

  30. @S.P. Congress 'suspended that'. OK, I don't know what that means. Please fill me in? Exactly what was suspended and for who? You say certain liabilities (for slandering)? And was this something applied strictly to on-line 'publishers'? Is Facebook a 'public commons'? I really don't know. Somewhere at the height of shopping mall culture people said the same thing, but the courts (as I recall) declared malls private property whose owners had all rights to bar protests. U.S. courts have mostly favored property over people. Or so it seems. At the least it's contentious. Anyway, I remember the mall business. Thanks.

  31. So, with each passing day, each explanation, each declaration of innocent naivety, the story grows and the prince declares it wasn't by my design, I will pursue the truth and ensure it doesn't happen again. Oops. I thought I was commenting on MBS's response to the Khashoggi killing. My bad.

  32. With over two billion users Facebook could enforce more control over free speech than any government in the world. I'm still not clear whether FB should be considered a utility, like the phone system, or a publisher, like a newspaper. Should it be responsible for content at all? Is this something we want to be privatized? Instead of FB or our justice system policing bad actors, could there be an alternative that's more crowdsourced yet resilient to demagoguery, fraud and deception? How about having certified rating bodies, along with user votes, to flag offenders so users can filter them out? I'm not a FB user. Excuse me if my questions are naive.

  33. I can't imagine Zuckerberg & Sandberg ever in their wildest dreams ever thought that project Facebook would ever be taken so seriously and upset so many people. For a social network to be taken this seriously by the NYT and Washington would have taken billions and billions of dollars. It is a joke!

  34. If we could posts gifs here, this would be Judge Judy Facepalm time.

  35. The entire argument is blown by the last sentence, "All we can do is hope that he (Zuckerberg) chooses wisely. It is clear now that all his choices are made for profit and growth. Facebook began with a stolen idea, and it was first used to rate how attractive the women at Harvard are, not for a social good. Then it evolved to be an instrument for Russia to prevent Hillary Clinton, who Putin hated, from becoming President. Not to mention to facilitate genocide in Myanmar. Please give me a reason to believe he will ever act responsibly, The Times is correct in saying that the next step has to be the government making the decisions to stop them from doing harm.

  36. How tone deaf. We already have the Supreme Court. This is more self absorbed proof that Facebook thinks it has its own laws, and we are subordinate. What a total fail. Time to take this company over and start regulating it into oblivion.

  37. Nothing Zuckerberg does will satisfy "progressives". The issue for "progressives" is the capitalist nature of Facebook. The only thing that will satisfy our "progressives" would be to nationalize it and hand them the keys.

  38. @jaco At least one reader gets it.

  39. This is America. We are free to criticize or even delete Facebook anytime we choose. For any old reason that we choose. Please tell me that at least you are "progressive" enough to agree with that.

  40. From reading the comments here and after many other articles I gather that many people absolutely hate Facebook and think we would all be better off without it. Some commenters say their mother likes it but they do not and never use it or some such equivalent. The truth is that many many people like to use it to stay connected to family who live far away and for many other reasons. I suppose there should be some kind of board to appeal to if there is bullying going on, public shaming, outright lies being passed as truth, and speech inciting to violence, etc. Such a board does bring up the question of freedom of speech and just how much responsibility an independent body should take to determine what we should see and not see. On the issue of progressives and their relation to Facebook I think they should be very cautious as they do sound pretty negatively judgmental about people who do like Facebook. Is this a battle they really want to engage in when so many other dangers are crowding in on us and we need all the good will we can get to fight those other battles? I think such a body to determine content should at least be in the hands of those who do not hate Facebook and are judgmental about it.

  41. Say hello to censorship.

  42. The issue of content is hardly the problem with FB. The subtleties of content targeting, data mining, etc are far to complex and easy to manipulate through algorithmic approaches to be in the "trust me" model. Consider that Fox new or the Atlantic/Huffpost are perfectly legitimate proxies acceptable though biased content. If it was pushed through targeting/frequency, their impact could be completely different. First, FB should give complete control to users to block content from non-relationships and stop ads Second, consumers should be able to be dark on the site and now share data or targeting information 3rd - FB currently is highly predatory using it's cash production to buy or crush competitors. Look at Whatsapp - used proceeds from FB to allow Whatsapp to crush competitors by not monetizing users and traffic until they could win 4th - and most important - Change will not be enduring unless Zuckerberg is not the single control shareholder

  43. A fundamental principle that must be addressed is this: Is Facebook a public forum or a private entity? As a public forum, it would need to follow constitutional principles about free speech, and it would draw the line between permitted and prohibited speech in one place. Example: Hate speech is allowed, but recruiting for a riot would not. But as a private entity, FB has a brand to protect, and a community to sustain, and it can set different rules. It could decide that no hate speech is allowed. So Zuckerberg will need to decide that question, and lay down some clear principles for his "court" to follow in either case.

  44. This is all very interesting, but at least from the user/receiver/consumer side of things, the solution is simple: rather than trusting/hoping Facebook will implement some kind of credible 'editor'/quality control function, AVOID FACEBOOK as a source of information where reliability matters. There are plenty of quality "news" and information sources that have credible "quality control" processes. Facebook makes sense for its original purposes--easily sharing of family/friend info for social/informal purposes--but not for quality information. Right tool for the right purpose...

  45. The Motion Picture Association ratings process for movies could be a good model for any social media oversight function.

  46. Yes, that would be good. And Mitch can pick the justices. If they are well paid and sufficiently cowed, they should work just fine.

  47. The problem is being looked at from the wrong end. The question should be what kind of people should decide what we see? The founders of Facebook have proven, many times over, their ethics are flawed and motives driven only by profit, and top company officers unfit to manage a business that commands a high degree of integrity. Just looking at the behavior of Joel Kaplan with respect to Africans American users of Facebook and Instagram, it is clear that the entirety of Facebook's management needs to be closely regulated from the outside. It isn't a Supreme Court that Facebook needs, but a department of ethics whose mission should be to retrain employees, pore through the AI to find flaws in its anti-racism filters, and weed out extremist content, targeting of minorities, etc. Then, there is the issue of profiting from user's private data. That must be regulated for all social media. The wolf should never be allowed to guard the henhouse. That must includes wolves in justice' clothing. --- Things Trump Did While You Weren’t Looking

  48. If people fall for this, Zuckerberg has bought himself another year. Even then, he can announce that starting up Supreme Court version 1.0, has turned out to be "really complicated" and, you know, raises a lot of issues.

  49. Regardless if Facebook is a publisher or a platform, which come with their own respective regulations, free speech should be unconditionally free. When you start to place restrictions on so-called "hate speech," a highly subjective term, in order to maintain an atmosphere for "civility," (again, another highly subjective term), there is more negative than positive fruits. Facebook, Youtube, and, yes, even you New York Times, should open the floodgates of free expression; censorship done with the best of intentions causes more harm than good.

  50. @Xyce Free speech isn't a thing in Corporate America. That is, free speech has nothing to do with this. Facebook (that is Zuckerberg) can say or not say anything thing they wish. The issue here is they say they protect their users' rights and privacy, and do not; they say they want to avoid being used for nefarious purposes, but they do not; they say they believe these things are a problem and Facebook is struggling against huge obstacles to make things better, that Facebook will do better, but it does not. Whatever you or I or Congress may want, the only thing Facebook cares about is growing richer. They seem to believe they need people to like, or at least trust, them in order to do so. So they lie and dissemble and say whatever it is they think we need to hear. The hitch in the game is they never expected anyone to follow up. They never thought anybody was smart enough to figure out what they were doing. They never thought they should have to tell the truth. That's not how you do marketing, for Pete's sake. Free speech is a non-issue, here.

  51. @oogada I must fundamentally disagree with you that free speech is a "none-issue" regarding this article. Zuckerberg is proposing an independent regulatory committee to decide which content is allowed to be published and which content is not allowed; that is relevant to the idea of free speech. Now does Facebook have the right to censor content? Sure. Should they? I don't think so. That's the point, my friend. My post is more a matter of philosophy, how I think these companies should run themselves regarding the dissemination of expression. I am a vociferous advocate of free speech. Everyone should be allowed to say whatever they want, with the good ideas and the bad ideas wrestling each other.

  52. @Xyce The Z-man's "independent" whatever is not a government body. If what was, you all would be screaming about censorship. The best you can do is to hope that for the first time Z is telling the truth and will abide by whatever pretty picture he chooses to paint for you. As to your extreme, shall we say radical, free speech stance, it is a fool's philosophy. Just as you seem to trust a corporation to worry about commitments it pretends to make (only to avoid establishment of a real, toothsome regulating body), you also ignore the many, and effective, campaigns of lies and misinformation already warping the fabric of your society. Campaigns that have destroyed civic unity, obliterated trust in foundational concepts and institutions, and roused citizens to murder and mayhem. In what way, exactly, does that differ from yelling "fire" in a crowded theater? Your blind devotion to some unattainable ideal will cost you the very society that allows you to believe it might be possible. Particularly in an environment in which those screeching loudest for free speech seek to use that speech to silence others and to advocate for a quasi-police state to secure their singular domination.

  53. Even if Facebook sets up such a tribunal, and tried to give it a separate funding source and governing body, or even a separate corporate identity, it still counts as a "self-policing" solution. And, for entities that have such a widespread effect on the public commons and discourse, such solutions inevitably prove insufficient, because they tend not to buck the ultimate capitalist sales dollar logic. This is why, for example, we've always had regulations for the public airwaves (FCC) and commercial transactions (FTC/SEC). The arbitrator has to be completely outside the realm and not subject to commercial considerations, and generally that means, on some level, government. (That is, fundamentally, a governmental prime function--development of rules/standards and adjudication of disputes.) That's not to say there won't be gray areas and disagreement, often along political lines. But at least governmental oversight has the chance (at least if we can get that oligarchic money out of the political process--a tall order, certainly) of not always being subsumed by the primacy of profit.

  54. I left Facebook, almost 2 months now. Has there been anything dramatic happened to my life because of such action, No; did I miss anyone else life info feed to my face on a daily basis? No. The information I got from Facebook is all on the surface, no substance; we developed a habit of quick to capture the information but never took time to analyse it because of the way Facebook feed the information to you. Has the world become quick to judge because of it? Maybe we do.

  55. Facebook is an addictive pastime or simply a game. The point of the game is to become more popular. Facebook has various ways to reward popularity and to collect money from entities that want to increase their popularity. Of course not everyone plays to win and many use the structure to connect with friends and family. Another draw is all the popular stuff on Facebook. Since it’s a game, then it also can have rules. But changing the rules won’t change the game. As long as popularity is the monetary driver, the content won’t be there for the benefit of the users, it will be there to exploit and manipulate them. The best thing would be to replace Facebook with something designed from the start to be a social network.

  56. Wow, the volume of communication on FB and you're going to monitor it? If I am a FB executive, my first concern would be the cost of this, and how many issues can be resolved initially without human interaction, maybe some sort of algorithm or artificial Intelligence. Anything not resolved in an automated fashion, people step in. Still, it sounds like a gargantuan task. Maybe we could alleviate a lot of problems just by making sure any posters (includes advertisers) are accurately identified. No anonymity would be a start.

  57. This idea of a "Supreme Court" for Facebook supposes a number of problematic things, one of which, how is this going to be paid for if it's independent? Another is, who would serve on this "Court"? I have a better idea. Scrap this idea and let the government regulate the company. The government, for all of its flaws, has the most experience in regulation. While they're at it, they might want to regulate other tech companies that use our personal data in exchange for services.

  58. @MKathryn No, the government has no business regulating content on Facebook or anywhere else, other than stopping actual threats of violence or of other criminal acts. Now, I don't use Facebook. I resisted getting an account on FB for years, but I finally signed up for one a couple of years ago so I could leave comments on sites that used the Facebook commenting software. There is just one thing on my Facebook page, a small message saying what I just said. So I don't know too much about how FB works. That being said, I agree that this idea of a "Supreme Court" for Facebook posts is ridiculous. Mainly because it ascribes too much importance to Facebook. It doesn't deserve its own Supreme Court. People can set their Facebook accounts so they only receive messages from their FB "friends", right? That should be the default setting. Have another setting that will also allow messages from friends of friends, and one that allows them from anyone. But these should be definitely "opt-in". Then you can let people post anything they want that isn't actually illegal. No one will see offensive posts unless they seek them out or choose to allow them.

  59. @MKathryn Are you aware of the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States?

  60. Facebook is a microcosm of our country. What is wrong with Facebook is wrong with our governing body. Our government has turned the other cheek when it comes to corporate malfeasance. Was there any one bank president indicted for the fiasco that became the Great Recession? When our supreme court ruled in favor of Citizens United in 2010 they inferred that corporations are people. If corporations are people the ruling board of these corporations should be prosecuted as people. The bottom line is that corporations are not people. Corporations are legal entities whose sole purpose is the bottom line. If we are going to clean up corporate America we ought to begin by cleaning up a supreme court that unjustly favors big money over we the people..

  61. One is left to wonder whether Zuckerberg is the Dr. Frankenstein of this tale or if he has inadvertently opened a Pandora's box comprising zeroes and ones. Either way, his creation has taken on a life of its own and is beyond its creator's control. There is no perfect solution to the "evil" that has been unleashed. We have entered a brave new world where control is beyond our grasp. That is not to say we shouldn't try. Hope was the sole virtue left in Pandora's box before she closed it.

  62. Once again the academic community drops the ball. As a postmodernist, it does not surprise me one bit that the authors of this article have not once used the words Natural Law, when discussing this new 'digital court,' that Facebook intends to create. As someone who has written about this subject, the postmodern 'digital estate' comes with a whole new set of problems and unique characteristics, that can lead one very easily into a world that could be both utopian and Orwellian at the same time. This postmodern Natural Law, in regards to defining what kind of content is allowable on a digital site, could eventually be applied throughout the entire 'digital estate.' It would happen simply as a matter of protocol and convenience since it would have to be voluntary. If this were to happen, this new postmodern Natural Law could be used to infringe upon ones postmodern right of free expression, and strip even the most benign comment or image on any participating site. This is where it becomes a very slippery slope if Facebook, a private company or in association with other private companies, creates a tribunal based upon a model that mirrors the modern courts of todays Western world. If a 'digital court' is to be built, it must be within a postmodern structure that allows and embraces the Natural Laws & Rights that are found at the core of the Internet - with its principals of openness and freedom. If it is will be something nobody will use. I know I won't.

  63. "Barack Obama's re-election team are building a vast digital data operation that for the first time combines a unified database on millions of Americans with the power of Facebook to target individual voters to a degree never achieved before." --The Guardian, 2012, "Obama, Facebook and the power of friendship: the 2012 data election" Funny, I don't remember liberal being up in arms about Facebook being used to elect their venerated, pure-as-the-driven-snow political messiah, Obama, into the highest office in the world. It seems that only when conservatives use the power of the social media to influence elections is when it is moral and ethical bankruptcy. Hypocrisy much? So to all those posters whining about Facebook being utilized to the Republican's advantage, cry me a river.

  64. Xyce, there is no reason to criticize the Facebook platform when it is used as an organizational tool facilitating groups of people to organize and meet. It is totally another matter for Russian trolls and bots to conspire with a mendacious campaign to use the Newsfeed to spread fake news and lies. Huge difference.

  65. Facebook was entirely wrong in selling/giving away our information to third parties... other than that though, I don't see any difference between Facebook running fake ads and our local media company running fake ads on our local TV stations. Or listening to fake truth from our supreme leader. Facebook is a private company and if they want to censor, more power to them... but making them censor is wrong. And I HATE Facebook.

  66. Facebook, at it's present scale, can no longer be treated like a regular private company. It has become an essential utility for societal communication and should be regulated as such

  67. Zuckerberg's proposal, if not just window-dressing to preserve his personal control, will be subject to political pressures no less than a representative democracy. His admission that Facebook requires quasi-governmental regulation is an admission that the Facebook has become an essential public utility. So let's stop trying to impose pretzel logic and just declare it a public utility.

  68. I don't know what Facebook is, legally speaking. My vague understanding was that they (and other web sites) generally claim they're not publishers. They just let people post things from publishers. And as to their members/users who 'merely' pass published work along, or simply post their own opinions, 'facts', and photos, I have no idea what the law is. As a private business people voluntarily join, are posts subject to anything but the owner's rules? An owner who deals primarily in advertising would be subject to a lot of business pressure to 'police' their own web site. Do they have any other obligation (beyond, say, warning minors away from 'mature' material)? Clearly Facebook is the kind of web site that seeks a non-controversial image, lest advertisers get scared away, even as they make their personal (corporate) claim to be for 'connecting the world' and 'free expression'. If so, then it's their problem. Any 'court' would have to be supported and paid for by them. As it is I've heard them (and Twitter, etc) complain they're hiring as many people as they can to oversee what's posted for violations of THEIR posting policies, then griping that too many of them is simply too darn expensive, and say we have these neat non-human AI programs looking! The Times should write us up a clear article about these categories and their boundaries. Public? Private? "Publisher"? "News Accumulator"? or "Hey, don't ask us. We only work here."? Thanks

  69. The only way to force Facebook to clean up their act and stop being a well-paid Big Lie propaganda machine is for users to cancel their accounts until Facebook becomes a social medium, not an anti-social goldmine for Zuckerberg and his pals that has helped elect Trump and fuel religious wars around the globe.

  70. I can hardly believe The Founders failed to foresee that Democracy's future would someday hinge on business decisions of greedy corporate monarchs and wonks.

  71. A few years ago, a small group of sociopaths figured out you could make billions by using the internet to give vent to people's vanity, egoism and superficiality. Imagine what people would give to endlessly post pictures of themselves to create the false impression that they are interesting, happy and relevant? Given the state of humanity, It was addictive, and now people are convinced that someone now must protect them from their own habitual use of social media. Re-enter the grandiose Mr. Zuckerberg, who now believes he can create his own personal "Supreme Court" to decide what can and cannot be posted on FB. Because FB is a private company, I have no quarrel with Mr. Zuckerberg's egomania. That is easy for me because I have no social media presence whatsoever. But for those who can't resist just one more selfie, you should be insulted enough to quit. Mr. Zuckerberg's Supreme Court is just his way of saying you are too stupid to have access to information he has not pre-screened for you. What nonsense.

  72. Perhaps FB’s plan B will be “Pay Per View Content” to monetize “Free Speech”.

  73. The issue is not the degree of fidelity of Facebook’s appeal process to the model of SCOTUS. It’s about the rationality of evolving Facebook Community Standards relative to very hard cases, which is an endless process in evolving society. When all is said and done (see the entire list of categories of process at the Nov. 15 Facebook post), “Creating Transparency and Enabling Research” causes revision of existing Community Standards and domino effect for executive function (“Proactive Identifying...,” “Discouraging...,” and addressing “Algorithmic Bias”). The Fourth Estate here is the combination of user response to platform changes, media dialogue about Facebook practices, Facebook commitment to transparency (i.e., being a participant in the social sphere of dialogue), and expert input into the media dialogue. This shows a general social evolutionary process, not modellable jurisprudentially. The appellate board remains open to transparency in this process, not merely at the point of justification of decisions, but as evolving entity, unlike a Constitutional branch of government strictly constrained.