Meta shareholders on Wednesday voted to reject a proposal to report on government censorship requests at the tech giant’s annual shareholder meeting.
The National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) proposed a resolution requiring the social media company to publish a report specifying Meta’s policy for how it deals with “requests to remove or take down content from its platforms by the Executive Office of the President, Members of Congress, or any other agency, entity or subcontractor on behalf of the United States Government,” the NLPC stated in its resolution. Meta’s board of directors recommended against voting for NLPC’s proposal, which also requests an itemized list of government takedown requests, citing its already-existing dedication to transparency and independent oversight board as reasons for its opposition.
“We are committed to transparency through the publication of information on how we address government requests for user data, content violating local laws, global internet disruptions, and intellectual property,” Meta’s board of directors stated in its opposition statement, listing regular transparency reports published by the company.
However, NLPC’s director of corporate integrity Paul Chesser argued Meta’s transparency declaration was not authentic.
“Meta responds to our proposal … by saying the Company is transparent about such matters,” Chesser said in a statement. “But saying you are transparent doesn’t make it so.”
He said the transparency reports Meta refers to in its opposition statement are insufficient as they give “numbers, but no identities,” adding, “Facebook covers up and protects those government officials from being identified for their shameful, unconstitutional actions.”
The FBI warned Facebook shortly before the New York Post published its bombshell story on Hunter Biden’s laptop that a potential “Russian propaganda” operation relating to Biden could be imminent. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on “The Joe Rogan Experience” in August 2022. Facebook has also removed content following prompting from U.S. government officials, including Biden White House COVID adviser Andy Slavitt and White House Director of Digital Strategy Rob Flaherty, according to court documents in the ongoing censorship lawsuit Missouri v. Biden.
NLPC proposed that Meta be required to publish censorship requests “including the name and title of the official making the request; the nature and scope of the request; the date of the request; the Company’s action or inaction to the request; and a reason or rationale for the Company’s response, or lack thereof.”
Meta acknowledged it does not “publish specific [government takedown] requests” in its opposition statement. When the DCNF asked Meta about why they do not do this, a spokesperson sent a copy of the opposition statement. (RELATED: Meet The Investors And Activists Fighting To ‘Depoliticize’ America’s ‘Radically Left-Wing’ Corporations)
The NLPC additionally stated that court cases have established precedents that private companies cannot censor speech on behalf of the U.S. government, “as it has the same effect as direct government censorship.”
Meta’s board cited its independent oversight board, which “reviews a selection of Meta’s content decisions to help interpret our policies and respect free expression.”
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