Facebook is reportedly soliciting input from academics and policymakers to set up an election commission. The commission would assist Facebook in navigating political topics related to elections in different parts of the world. It is also expected to counter “misinformation” during election periods.
According to Breitbart, Facebook’s decision to set up an election commission is likely motivated by a desire to avoid accusations of political bias and censorship. The commission could serve as a scapegoat when facing such accusations. Facebook is expected to announce the commission prior to the 2022 U.S. midterm elections.
The social media giant has consistently faced criticism for its handling of sensitive content during election time. Political parties have accused the company of being biased, and civil rights groups have blamed the organization for not doing enough to control the spread of “misinformation” through the platform.
Facebook’s election commission could mimic the Oversight Board that the company created back in 2018. Mostly composed of left-wing legal experts, journalists, and policy experts, the board decides whether the company is justified in deleting a certain post or banning someone from the platform. However, the Oversight Board has also been accused of being politically biased.
When Facebook banned former President Donald Trump’s account following the Capitol Hill breach on Jan. 6, the Oversight Board supported the decision. However, the board later stated that suspending Trump indefinitely was “not appropriate.”
Facebook continued the ban, stating that it applied for two years. The fact that an impeachment trial ended with the ruling that Trump was not guilty did not affect the decision. However, free speech activists criticized the platform for suspending the country’s president despite the lack of legal backing.
Facebook has also censored election content in countries such as India. The upcoming elections in Brazil, the Philippines, Hungary, and others will test the company’s attempts to be politically neutral. Other nations might see Facebook’s censorship of election-related content as foreign interference.
“There is already this perception that Facebook, an American social media company, is going in and tilting elections of other countries through its platform. Whatever decisions Facebook makes have global implications,” Stanford University law professor Nathaniel Persily said to The New York Times.