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May 16, 2020 - Zoltán Kovács

Introducing Facebook’s Soros Oversight Board

Soros slammed Facebook at Davos…and played Zuckerberg like a fiddle.

Earlier this year, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Soros shocked more than a few people by claiming Facebook was working with Donald Trump to get him re-elected. This wasn’t the first time that Soros had taken on the social media giant, but it was the first time that Mark Zuckerberg appears to have caved to the wishes of the billionaire “philanthropist.”

Just a few days later, January 31, Soros penned an op-ed in the New York Times under a quote: “Mark Zuckerberg Should Not Be in Control of Facebook.” That alone takes cheeks, but that was nothing. Following the argument that Facebook supports Trump “because it’s good for business” -- and some conspiracy theory about what really took place during the meeting between the Facebook CEO and the US president -- Soros then went on to say “Facebook is a publisher not just a neutral moderator or “platform’” and “should be held accountable for the content that appears on its site.”

Then the “philanthropist” closes his opinion article with these chilling lines:

“I repeat and reaffirm my accusation against Facebook under the leadership of Mr. Zuckerberg and Ms. Sandberg. They follow only one guiding principle: maximize profits irrespective of the consequences. One way or another, they should not be left in control of Facebook.”

Little more than three months later, Facebook announced it has created an Oversight Board to help decide what content stays for viewing and what content will be removed from the world’s largest social media site – and it appears to be packed with liberals, including more than one with direct ties to Soros himself.

The news set off alarm bells among free-speech advocates, conservatives, and proponents of causes unpopular among liberals and the left. People in these circles have been vocal for some time about having their content suppressed or outright censored. Many fear that things are about to get worse. Or will they?

The Free Speech Alliance (FSA) came out swinging saying, “This new board will damage Facebook more than it can imagine.” What they then disclosed was even more disturbing.

Of the four co-chairs on this new board, only one could be called conservative – to some, the statement infers. From there, it’s all downhill. A bit of digging reveals many ties to Soros-funded organizations and mouthpieces.

Amongst the other co-chairs are Catalina Botero Marino, a board member of the pro-abortion Center for Reproductive Rights, funded by Open Society Foundations. Then there’s former Danish prime minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt, who does not believe in salvation (or heaven… or hell) and is unequivocally and vocally anti-Trump. Helle is also CEO of Save the Children International, an organization partnered with Open Society Foundations. She additionally serves as a trustee of the International Crisis Group, a group that George Soros funded originally and one where he and his son Alexander both serve as trustees alongside Helle.

Lastly, among the board chairs, we have a Columbia University professor Jamal Greene. He served as an aide to Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) during Justice Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings, when Harris stated that Kavanaugh was a “a direct and fundamental threat” to the Supreme Court’s promise to carry out justice fairly.

These co-chairs apparently then hand-picked the other board members for Facebook’s Oversight Board (how convenient!), who appear to range from left-liberal to far left-liberal. These include Alan Rusbridger, former editor at well-known Soros mouthpiece The Guardian, who has come out in support of outright censorship (of what he disagrees with, of course). In 2015, Rushbridger took up a cushy position at Oxford University and then in 2016 became chair of the school’s Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, whose board includes Marty Baron, executive editor of The Washington Post, and which is partnered with the European Journalism Observatory, which also lists -- you guessed it -- Open Society Foundation as a contributor.

Wait, there are more. This new, objective board will also include:

  • A program manager at the Open Society Initiative for West Africa
  • A judge at the European Court of Human Rights and founding dean of Legal Studies at Soros’ Central European University
  • A former head of Article 19, an organization that focuses on the defense of freedom of expression, generously funded by the Open Society Foundation.

That former head of Article 19, the Soros beneficiary, is now in a position to protect “free expression” for those he deems worthy at the helm of the world’s largest social media platform.

This is not the first time left-wing media companies have taken it upon themselves to censor what they do not like. And it’s not the first time we’ve heard that those with a clearly liberal bias are in bed with Facebook.

Arvato, a subsidiary of left-wing media giant Bertelsmann, has long been in charge of censoring Facebook posts and ad campaigns. Mind you, Bertelsmann also owns RTL Group, a media entity known for its critical coverage of the Hungarian government and its pro-migration stance. Prior to the 2018 Hungarian parliamentary elections, Facebook content that was embarrassing to the opposition was taken down and pro-government campaigns were blocked.

So we’ve already seen the censorship of content, but the establishment of this board to have supposedly far-reaching decision-making authority with such an imbalanced, left-leaning composition takes matters to a new, troubling level.

The FSA statement asks, “There are many wealthy donors on the right who also espouse free speech. Why aren’t they equally represented?”

Good question. Here’s another one: How does this private citizen, a person who promotes an ideology far outside the mainstream, along with a group of his like-minded associates, paid employees and sympathizers move in to become regulators-in-chief for a platform catering to over 30 percent of the world’s population?

Turning again to that disturbing quote at the end of his op-ed, the line where Soros says that Zuckerberg and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg “should not be left in control of Facebook” because they seek only to “maximize profits irrespective of the consequences.” Two things:

That strikes me as deeply cynical coming from a man who said in an interview that “I am basically there to make money. I cannot and do not look at the social consequences of what I do.”

Secondly, his insistence that Mark Zuckerberg should not be left in control of Facebook sounds disturbingly familiar to someone who lived under communism. Zuckerberg is one of the founders and controlling shareholders of Facebook. But in the Soros worldview, ideology trumps all and if a powerful platform like Facebook does not toe the open society party line, then ownership control must be taken away.

Then again, maybe I shouldn’t be so concerned. I mean, like the New York Times wrote in the byline of Soros’ op-ed, “Mr. Soros is a philanthropist.” What could go wrong?