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Inside the Making of Facebook’s Supreme Court


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Real Clear Politics

On a morning in May, 2019, forty-three lawyers, academics, and media experts gathered in the windowless basement of the NoMad New York hotel for a private meeting. The room was laid out a bit like a technologist’s wedding, with a nametag and an iPad at each seat, and large succulents as centerpieces. There were also party favors: Facebook-branded notebooks and pens. The company had convened the group to discuss the Oversight Board, a sort of private Supreme Court that it was creating to help govern speech on its platforms. The participants had all signed nondisclosure agreements. I sneaked in late and settled near the front. “Clap if you can hear me,” the moderator, a woman dressed in a black jumpsuit, said:snip:

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Facebook Comes for Geography

You likely have never heard of Man Day, but you should know about it. Man Day is an annual charity event in Kansas and Oklahoma that is a celebration of all things manly—among them eating lots of bacon-wrapped meats, shooting weapons of gratuitous caliber and astonishing speed, copious explosions involving Tannerite, racing junk cars around a pond, and culminating in the burning of a minivan on a pillar that looks like something out of the ancient, famous contest between Elijah and the prophets of Baal.

That comparison is not likely a stretch. The founder of Man Day is one Brent Kroeker, a “reformed Mennonite” as he jokingly calls himself, insofar as he remains a devoted follower of Jesus but has no use for the pacifist traditions often associated with the Christian denomination. Kroeker uses Man Day events to raise money for another charity—and this is really important to the story—in which he uses his skills drawn from a career in irrigation to drill wells in Niger.

Kroeker and Man Day recently fell afoul of Facebook’s rules, however. And while Kroeker and Facebook have carried on an “extended correspondence” over his celebration of explosions and gonad-embiggening weaponry, his recent post removal and warning of a perma-ban come not from any of these predictable sources. He was censored for “hate speech.” Because—and please read carefully—he recently reminded readers of his page that his charity supports his work in Niger.:snip:

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