The Facebook Oversight Board has been a cause of much consternation ever since it was proposed. Ultimately, when the board to regulate content on the social media platform was set up, it created quite the stir after it was revealed that 18 of the 20 members were linked to the American Billionaire and prominent Democrat donor, George Soros.
Since then, another revelation has come to light. One of the members of the Facebook Oversight Board is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, a terrorist outfit banned in multiple Arab and Western countries, in addition to being a Nobel Peace Laureate. The Nobel Peace Prize does not carry much meaning at this point given the fact that Barack Obama, another winner, went on to bomb Libya into slavery apart from plunging the entire Middle-East into further chaos.
But membership of the Muslim Brotherhood does carry a lot of meaning. The Middle-East Online (MEO) reported in June that Yemeni journalist and activist Tawakkol Karman, co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011, is a member of the terrorist outfit who was awarded a place in the Facebook Oversight Board in order to regulate the platform’s content.
According to the report, Tawakkol Karman was formerly a member of the Islamist Yemeni Islah Party (YIP) that was backed by the Muslim Brotherhood. She called the MB “one of the victims of official tyranny and terrorism in the region.” The MB acknowledged their ties with her and proudly congratulated her after she won the Nobel Peace Prize.
A MEMRI report quoted one of her interviews on BBC Arabic on September 15, 2013 as saying, “The most important achievement of the January  Revolution [in Egypt] was the abolishment of the emergency law. Unfortunately, the July 3  coup reinstated that law. The Muslim Brotherhood and its supporters, who oppose the military rule, are engaged in a legendary struggle, which they are waging with their blood, their resolute steadfastness, and their belief that they will restore the revolution to its true path.”
The Arabs were incensed by her nomination to the Facebook Oversight Board. “Tawakkol Karman does not deserve to be on an international council to supervise Facebook content. Hate speech and Karman are just like branches on a tree,” prominent political science professor Dr. Abdulkhaleq Abdulla said. “This news is a major catastrophe, because her appointment to this position enables her to pass judgment on Facebook policies regarding the region,” commented Emirati writer Ola Al Shaikh.
Egyptian activists launched a campaign against her as well. Dr. Hani Raji said, “This means granting the supervision of Facebook in Egypt directly to the Muslim Brotherhood. She is an explicit enemy of political regimes in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, either she will be removed from the committee or Facebook will be closed!”
“Karman was considered a symbol of the Yemeni revolution against the rule of Saleh, but over time she has become associated with intolerance, discrimination and lack of neutrality,” Hani Nasira, a terrorism and extremism expert, told Arab News. It was also reported that following her Nobel Peace Prize win, she was invited to Doha and personally congratulated by Muslim Brotherhood leader Yusuf-al-Qaradawi. The preacher is known to call for suicide bombs and praise Adolf Hitler for “punishing” the Jews.
The man on the right(Qaradawi) was banned from entering the UK, France, the US & many other civilised nations for extremism. The lady next to him is Tawakul Karman, which @Facebook appointed to its Oversight Board! Facebook has made itself an institutional promoter of extremism pic.twitter.com/wX32IVCpQZ— Ghanem Nuseibeh (@gnuseibeh) November 20, 2020
“Karman’s loyalty to, and association with, governments that flout all norms of democracy, such as Qatar and Turkey, deprives her of any claim to neutrality and objectivity,” she stated further. “Her political rhetoric encourages extremism, divisiveness and shunning of those who disagree with her current loyalties.”
The conduct of social media platforms has come under intense scrutiny, especially in light of the presidential elections in the United States where tech giant have regularly censored the sitting US president, based on grounds widely perceived to be frivolous. Under such circumstances, the presence of an Islamist on the Facebook Oversight Board is likely to attract further scrutiny for the social media platform.
Furthermore, questions regarding whether platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are legitimately a threat to Democracy will have to be answered as well. Without a shadow of a doubt, such tech giants have disproportionate influence over the control of information and when the self-appointed oversight boards have Islamic extremists on them, such questions cannot be disregarded completely. Democracy relies heavily on the communication of information and it is well past time that India has this discussion as well.