September 19, 2021

“Let us not entrust Facebook with the power to dispense justice”

Par this irony that history likes to wield, it is a “supreme court” that finally got the better of Donald Trump’s career on Facebook and Instagram. But it is not a supreme court like the others which, at the beginning of May 2021, decided to banish definitively from “the agora of the world” the former American president, after the suspension of his accounts, the day after the invasion. of the Capitol by his supporters on January 6.

This court was not created by a state to guarantee the constitutionality of its laws and the fundamental freedoms of its citizens. It is the fruit of the imagination of Mark Zuckerberg himself, CEO of Facebook with the air of “imperator”, anxious to delay in the face of regulators more and more determined, in the United States as elsewhere, to restrain the whole. -power become overwhelming of the American technological giants.

Read also Donald Trump remains banned from Facebook and Instagram, but his case will be reviewed

For years, the founder of Facebook has tried at all costs to evade regulation, in particular on the thorny issue of moderation of hateful and deceptive content online, by asserting his ability to self-regulate.

In fact, his group has not skimped on the investments (objectively colossal) to automatically delete the billions of fake accounts and banned content detected on its social media platforms, and employ some 15,000 moderators to try to separate (task terrifying!) the wheat of the chaff.

Fundamental rights of citizens

But is it wise to leave in this way to a tech giant the responsibility of making decisions that so intimately affect the fundamental rights of citizens, and that subtle balance between freedom of expression and human rights that have been constantly sought after? their foundation, democratic states? A fortiori, when we know the major conflict of interests that slows it down in its regulatory action?

Because let’s never forget that Facebook (like Google, YouTube or Twitter) lives only on the advertising it sells. And that it is by highlighting, through the game of algorithms, the most excessive content, the very ones that polarize and generate the most “engagement”, that he garners a maximum of advertising revenue… His first Would it not be a responsibility to correct such an economic model, to limit its effects? The root of excess is at the heart of algorithms.

It was in response to such criticisms that Zuckerberg put in place, a year ago, a « Oversight Board » (“Supervisory board”), to rule in the last resort on the group’s decisions relating to the internal moderation of its content. In this body readily presented as a “supreme court”, twenty members sit today, eminent professors of law, journalists, politicians, activists, representing sixteen countries, for a mandate of three years.

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