In a May 22 blog post on the Students for Life website, Matt Lamb, director of strategic engagement and outreach, said oversight board member Stanford law professor Pam Karlan is “radically pro-abortion” and backs abortion through nine months of pregnancy. She co-authored an amicus brief in the 1992 case Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which reaffirmed most Supreme Court precedent requiring legal abortion nationwide.
For Hawkins, who signed the Free Speech Alliance statement, the pro-life movement is the target of “misinformation and bias from the media, mainstream culture, and politicians across the country.”
“And defending the facts about the life issue and reaching our peers is a full time job. At a bare minimum, pro-life people should have access to the free marketplace of ideas, where the First Amendment guarantees our freedom of speech and should protect us from view point discrimination,” she said.
The Free Speech Alliance statement worried the oversight board might control “conservative” speech, including speech that defends marriage, religious freedom, the lives of the unborn, gun rights, and free enterprise, under the pretext that it constituted “hate speech.”
The coalition contended that the oversight board had only “one traditional conservative and one libertarian.” The critics objected to board co-chair Jamal Greene, a Columbia Law professor, who was an aide to U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., during the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
They also criticized links that several board members and the board administrator Thomas Hughes share with the influential billionaire George Soros.
Soros organizations like the Open Society Foundations help advance his vision of human rights, which includes expansive legal abortion. The Soros network also backs LGBT advocacy, another possible flash point in debates about Facebook oversight and content moderation.
Facebook oversight board member Afia Asantewaa Asare-Kyei, a human rights lawyer with Ghanaian and South African citizenship, is program manager for the Open Society Initiative for West Africa. The oversight board website says her background includes LGBTQ rights.
Another board member, Kenyan human rights activist Maina Kai, presently heads Human Rights Watch’s Alliances and Partnerships Program. He served as a special investigator for the U.N. Human Rights Council. In this role, he backed a Botswana court decision overturning a ban on gay activist groups, Reuters reported in 2014.
While in the U.S. and other Western European countries LGBT advocacy has become so dominant that Christians and others who disagree can face strong social and legal pressures, in other parts of the world LGBT advocacy is seen as a vanguard of unwanted social change that promotes immorality and undermines religion and traditional values.
At present, Facebook’s anti-hate speech policy bars direct attacks on people based on “protected characteristics” such as “race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, caste, sex, gender, gender identity, and serious disease or disability.” Such an attack is defined as “violent or dehumanizing speech,” “statements of inferiority,” or “calls for exclusion or segregation.”
In a two-month period in early 2017, Facebook deleted on average 288,000 posts per week globally on grounds of hate speech, Facebook executive Richard Allen said in a June 27, 2017 blog post.
During the development of the oversight board, Facebook launched a public consultation process to solicit opinions and recommendations. On the matter of board member diversity, participants in the consultation prioritized diversity cultural and linguistic knowledge, ideological or political views, race or ethnicity, nationality, and other characteristics such as gender and sexuality. Only 46% thought religious views of board members should be an extremely important priority when considering diversity, according to Facebook’s report on the consultation published June 27, 2019.
Some American Catholics have run afoul of content moderation. Facebook in 2018 apologized to the Franciscan University of Steubenville for a “mistake” in rejecting its theology programs ad, on the grounds that an image of the cross was too violent and sensational.
Catholic fundraisers reported “critical” delays in Facebook ad approvals in the key donation period between Thanksgiving and Christmas of 2017. Facebook had begun to give new scrutiny to ads aimed at religious audiences, following claims that ad campaigns backed by the Russian government used Facebook and other social media to increase religious and political tensions in the U.S. ahead of the 2016 elections.