Trump compares COVID-19 to flu in tweet, Twitter raises red flag

(Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump played down the COVID-19 pandemic again, comparing it to the flu in a tweet on Tuesday, and Twitter Inc responded by putting a warning label on the tweet, saying the post included potentially misleading information.

“Flu season is coming up! Many people every year, sometimes over 100,000, and despite the Vaccine, die from the Flu. Are we going to close down our Country? No, we have learned to live with it, just like we are learning to live with Covid, in most populations far less lethal!!!” Trump had tweeted.

Earlier in the day, Facebook Inc removed a similar post by Trump, according to CNN.

The tweet comes hours after Trump was discharged from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

On Monday, Trump told Americans “to get out there” and not fear COVID-19 as he returned to the White House after a three-night hospital stay to be treated for the new coronavirus and removed his white surgical mask to pose for pictures.

During the 2019-2020 influenza season, the flu was associated with 22,000 deaths, according to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates.

(Reporting by Subrat Patnaik in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernard Orr)

In battleground Wisconsin, some Latinos feel ignored by Biden

By Tim Reid and Dan Simmons

MILWAUKEE (Reuters) – Cesar Hernandez says he has made thousands of phone calls since June urging Latinos in the battleground state of Wisconsin to support Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.

It’s a tough sell, admits Hernandez, especially where he lives on the South Side of Milwaukee, the heart of Wisconsin’s Latino community. He said Biden’s Spanish-language ads on Hulu and Facebook aren’t connecting with the neighborhood’s voters, many of whom would prefer a more personal touch.

“Latinos have seen almost nothing from Biden here,” said Hernandez, 25, who works for the Progressive Turnout Project, a national group working to mobilize Democratic voters. “There is very little enthusiasm for him.”

As the race to the Nov. 3 election enters the home stretch, appeals to Latino voters have taken on new urgency for Biden and incumbent Republican President Donald Trump. Both campaigns are pouring resources into the battleground states of Florida and Arizona, as well as increasingly competitive Nevada, whose large Latino populations could determine the outcome in those states.

Even in Wisconsin, where 87% of the population is white, the state’s 230,000 eligible Latino voters could prove critical. Trump won the state by just 22,000 votes in 2016.

A string of recent polls show Biden ahead in Wisconsin. The polling aggregation website RealClearPolitics has Biden leading Trump by an average of 5.5 percentage points from six polls conducted in September.

Trump has visited the state five times this year. His campaign has opened an office on Milwaukee’s South Side, where authentic taco outlets jostle with bilingual tax preparers and a Puerto Rican barber shop. The windows of the campaign storefront are plastered with Trump signs and its shelves bear merchandise such as “Latinos for Trump” hats.

The Biden campaign said in statements to Reuters that its outreach efforts to Latinos in Wisconsin and nationally were unprecedented in scale.

It said it had a full-time Latino outreach director in Wisconsin and dozens of staff organizing in predominantly Latino communities. It is running Spanish-language phone and text banks and has ads on multiple platforms, including Spanish-language radio and Spanish-language mailers. Dozens of virtual roundtables, rallies and other events targeting the Latino community have been held, the Biden campaign said.

“The campaign has communicated with tens of thousands of Latino voters about the clear choice in this year’s election,” said Jen Molina, Biden’s national Latino media director.

But Reuters interviews with 30 Latino residents and activists on Milwaukee’s South Side suggest those efforts may be falling short, reflecting what some call an “enthusiasm gap” for Biden among Latinos nationwide that has been noted by pollsters and analysts.

Several residents interviewed said the only contact they’ve had with the Biden campaign are phone texts in English soliciting donations. Fifteen of 24 Latino voters interviewed said they would vote for Biden, albeit with little fervor. Some said he was too old and seemed more focused on Black voters and their concerns about social justice.

“It’s like he’s not listening to us,” Hernandez said, adding that many feel Biden is taking them for granted. “We’re not being heard.”

Others blamed the novel coronavirus pandemic. With cases surging in Wisconsin, Biden’s team has stuck to a mostly virtual campaign; plans for a campaign office in Milwaukee’s South Side were scrapped, said Darryl Morin, a Biden campaign volunteer focused on turning out Latino voters.

Trump’s Wisconsin team, meanwhile, has continued door-to-door campaigning and in-person outreach, a strategy that Morin said resonates with Latino voters.

“I completely get why people feel there has been a lack of presence” from Biden’s campaign, Morin said. “Sometimes it’s frustrating the degree we are having to limit the operations. Only one side is continuing to go out in person – the Trump campaign.”

BATTLEGROUND STATE WORRIES

Nationally, Biden leads Trump among registered voters who identify as Hispanics: 53% said they would back the Democrat, while 30% said they would vote for Trump, slightly more than backed the Republican in 2016, according to Reuters/Ipsos polling in September.

But Biden’s 23-point advantage is smaller than the 39-point lead Clinton had over Trump among Hispanic voters on Election Day four years ago.

If his campaign fails to make up that ground, it could prove “disastrous” for Biden in closely contested states with significant Latino populations, said Jaime Regalado, an expert on Latino voters at California State University in Los Angeles.

Trump’s anti-immigrant policies and harsh rhetoric about migrants are widely unpopular with Latinos. Yet polls show many trust him on the economy. In Florida, a must-win state for Trump, he has made inroads with conservative Cuban-Americans with the false claim that Biden and the Democrats are “socialists.” In battleground Arizona, Trump held a “Latinos for Trump” roundtable with voters in Phoenix last month.

The Biden campaign says its virtual events in Wisconsin focused on the Latino community have involved high-profile officials, including Michelle Lujan Grisham, the first Latina Democratic governor of New Mexico. Last month, a virtual bus tour with Democratic members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus held an event in Wisconsin.

Biden’s running mate, U.S. Senator Kamala Harris, met last month with representatives of Voces de la Frontera, Wisconsin’s biggest immigrant-rights group, which has endorsed the Democratic ticket. Voces says it has staff and volunteers working across the state to register 23,000 new voters by Election Day.

SOUTH SIDE MICROCOSM

The South Side of Milwaukee is a microcosm of Biden’s broader struggles.

Jose Vasquez, 71, a community leader, said it didn’t matter how many text messages, virtual events or phone calls the Biden campaign said it has made.

“You can hand out a thousand fliers, but if you’re not knocking on a single door or talking face-to-face with a single person, you have little impact,” he said in an interview.

Vasquez, a retired school principal, said he wants to see more from Biden on issues Latinos care about, such as a visit to Puerto Rico, which still needs massive aid after a 2017 hurricane, or a trip to the southern border with Mexico to discuss immigration reform.

Democrats had planned to hold Biden’s nominating convention in Milwaukee this summer but were forced to host the four-day event virtually because of the pandemic.

SWITCHING TO TRUMP

A third of the two dozen Latino residents interviewed by Reuters in Milwaukee were enthusiastic Trump supporters.

Among them is Mayra Gomez, 41, a lifelong Democrat. The Puerto Rico native said she began looking at the president after receiving an unsolicited Facebook message from a conservative group urging Latinos to break away from the Democratic Party.

Gomez said she was attracted to Trump’s law-and-order message and his economic policies. She said she’ll vote for him in November, and is urging family and friends to do the same.

“Remember, Trump’s not a politician. He’s a businessman,” Gomez said. “What he says may sound funny, but he’s actually speaking the truth.”

The Biden campaign says it is ramping up efforts as the election nears.

On Sept. 26, Todos con Biden, a national coalition of Latino organizers and volunteers working to elect Biden, held its first outdoor event in Wisconsin. At a park on Milwaukee’s South Side, it handed out 500 campaign yard signs.

(Reporting by Tim Reid in Los Angeles and Dan Simmons in Milwaukee; Additional reporting by Chris Kahn in New York. Editing by Ross Colvin and Marla Dickerson)

Senate panel plans to issue subpoenas to CEOs of Google, Facebook, Twitter

By Nandita Bose

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate Commerce Committee chaired by Republican Senator Roger Wicker will issue subpoenas to the chief executives of Twitter Inc., Alphabet Inc’s Google and Facebook Inc. if they do not agree to testify at a hearing on Oct. 1.

The hearing will discuss a legal immunity known as Section 230 that technology companies have when it comes to liability over content posted by users.

Republican President Donald Trump has made holding tech companies accountable for allegedly stifling conservative voices a theme of his administration. As a result calls for a reform of tech’s prized legal immunity have been intensifying ahead of the elections but has little chance to be approved by Congress this year

The committee will issue subpoenas if the technology companies do not agree to appear in front of the committee by Thursday night, a spokeswoman for Wicker confirmed to Reuters.

On Wednesday, Trump met with nine Republican state attorneys general to discuss the fate of Section 230 after the Justice Department unveiled a legislative proposal aimed at reforming the law.

“In recent years, a small group of powerful technology platforms have tightened their grip over commerce and communications in America,” Trump told reporters after the meeting.

“Every year countless Americans are banned, blacklisted and silenced through arbitrary or malicious enforcement of ever-shifting rules,” he added.

Any substantial changes to reform the law will have to wait until after the elections.

The chief executives of Google and Facebook along with Apple Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. recently testified before the House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust panel.

(Reporting by Nandita Bose in Washington; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

U.S. Justice Department to propose changes to internet platforms immunity: source

By David Shepardson and Ayanti Bera

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Justice Department will unveil later on Wednesday a proposal that seeks to limit legal protections for internet platforms on managing content, a person briefed on the matter confirmed.

The proposal, which takes aim at Facebook Inc, Twitter Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google, would need congressional approval and is not likely to see action until next year at the earliest.

President Donald Trump in May signed an executive order that seeks new regulatory oversight of tech firms’ content moderation decisions and backed legislation to scrap or weaken the relevant provision in the 1996 Communications Decency Act, Section 230.

Trump will meet on Wednesday with a group of state attorneys general amid his criticism of social media companies. Twitter has repeatedly placed warning labels on Trump tweets, saying they have included potentially misleading information about mail-in voting.

Trump will meet with state attorneys general from Texas, Arizona, Utah, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, South Carolina and Missouri – like Trump, all Republicans – according to a person briefed on the matter.

“Online censorship goes far beyond the issue of free speech, it’s also one of protecting consumers and ensuring they are informed of their rights and resources to fight back under the law,” White House spokesman Judd Deere said on Monday.

Trump directed the Commerce Department to file a petition asking the Federal Communication Commission to limit protections under Section 230 after Twitter warned readers in May to fact-check his posts about unsubstantiated claims of fraud in mail-in voting. The petition is still pending.

A group representing major internet companies including Facebook, Amazon.com Inc and Google urged the FCC to reject the petition, saying it was “misguided, lacks grounding in law, and poses serious public policy concerns.”

The Wall Street Journal reported the planned Justice Department proposal earlier.

Police debunk social media misinformation linking Oregon wildfires to activists

By Elizabeth Culliford

(Reuters) – Several Oregon police departments have aimed to debunk misinformation spreading on social media platforms this week, including Facebook Inc and Twitter Inc, blaming leftist and right-wing groups for wildfires raging in the state.

“Rumors spread just like wildfire and now our 9-1-1 dispatchers and professional staff are being overrun with requests for information and inquiries on an UNTRUE rumor that 6 Antifa members have been arrested for setting fires in DOUGLAS COUNTY, OREGON,” read a Facebook post from the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office in Oregon on Thursday. “THIS IS NOT TRUE!”

PolitiFact, one of Facebook’s third-party fact-checking partners, wrote on Thursday on its website that dozens of posts blaming Antifa for the wildfires had been flagged by the social media company’s systems, and that collectively the posts had been shared thousands of times.

Antifa, which stands for anti-fascist, is a largely unstructured, far-left movement whose followers broadly aim to confront those they view as authoritarian or racist. U.S. President Donald Trump and some fellow Republicans have in recent months sought to blame the movement for violence at anti-racism protests, but have presented little evidence.

A Wednesday tweet from a self-described representative for conservative youth group Turning Point USA, which has been shared about 2,900 times, said the fires were “allegedly linked to Antifa and the Riots.”

Around half a million people in Oregon evacuated as dozens of extreme, wind-driven wildfires scorched the U.S. West Coast states on Friday, destroying hundreds of homes and killing at least 16 people, state and local authorities said.

Earlier this week, Medford police in Oregon also debunked a false post using the police department’s logo and name suggesting that five members of the Proud Boys had been arrested for arson.

The men-only, far-right Proud Boys group describes itself as a fraternal club of “Western chauvinists.”

“This is a made up graphic and story. We did not arrest this person for arson, nor anyone affiliated with Antifa or ‘Proud Boys’ as we’ve heard throughout the day,” the police department wrote in a Facebook post.

The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office in Oregon also posted on Thursday: “We are inundated with questions about things that are FAKE stories. One example is a story circulating that varies about what group is involved as to setting fires and arrests being made.”

Climate scientists say global warming has contributed to greater extremes in wet and dry seasons, causing vegetation to flourish and then dry out in the U.S. West, creating fuel for fires.

Police have opened a criminal arson investigation into at least one Oregon blaze, the Almeda Fire, Ashland Police Chief Tighe O’Meara said.

A Facebook spokeswoman said it had attached warning labels and reduced the distribution of posts about fires’ origins that were rated false by its fact-checking partners.

A Twitter spokeswoman said it did not seem that the rumors violated the social media site’s rules, saying in a statement: “As we have said before we will not be able to take enforcement action on every Tweet that contains incomplete or disputed information.”

(Reporting by Elizabeth Culliford in Birmingham, England, additional reporting by Katie Paul in San Francisco; Editing by Tom Brown)

Facebook removes seven million posts for sharing false information on coronavirus

(Reuters) – Facebook Inc. said on Tuesday it removed 7 million posts in the second quarter for sharing false information about the novel coronavirus, including content that promoted fake preventative measures and exaggerated cures.

Facebook released the data as part of its sixth Community Standards Enforcement Report, which it introduced in 2018 along with more stringent decorum rules in response to a backlash over its lax approach to policing content on its platforms.

The company said it would invite external experts to independently audit the metrics used in the report, beginning 2021.

The world’s biggest social media company removed about 22.5 million posts containing hate speech on its flagship app in the second quarter, up from 9.6 million in the first quarter. It also deleted 8.7 million posts connected to extremist organizations, compared with 6.3 million in the prior period.

Facebook said it relied more heavily on automation technology for reviewing content during the months of April, May and June as it had fewer reviewers at its offices due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

That resulted in company taking action on fewer pieces of content related to suicide and self-injury, child nudity and sexual exploitation on its platforms, Facebook said in a blog post.

The company said it was expanding its hate speech policy to include “content depicting blackface, or stereotypes about Jewish people controlling the world.”

Some U.S. politicians and public figures have caused controversies by donning blackface, a practice that dates back to 19th century minstrel shows that caricatured slaves. It has long been used to demean African-Americans.

(Reporting by Katie Paul in San Francisco and Munsif Vengattil in Bengaluru; Additional Reporting by Bart Meijer; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli and Anil D’Silva)

U.S. tech giants face hard choices under Hong Kong’s new security law

By Brenda Goh and Pei Li

SHANGHAI/HONG KONG (Reuters) – U.S. tech giants face a reckoning over how Hong Kong’s security law will reshape their businesses, with their suspension of processing government requests for user data a stop-gap measure as they weigh options, people close to the industry say.

While Hong Kong is not a significant market for firms such as Facebook, Google and Twitter, they have used it as a perch to reach deep-pocketed advertisers in mainland China, where many of their services are blocked. But the companies are now in the cross hairs of a national security law that gives China authority to demand that they turn over user data or censor content seen to violate the law – even when posted from abroad.

“These companies have to totally reassess the liability of having a presence in Hong Kong,” Charles Mok, a legislator who represents the technology industry in Hong Kong, told Reuters.

If they refuse to cooperate with government requests, he said, authorities “could go after them and take them to court and fine them, or imprison their principals in Hong Kong”.

Facebook, Google and Twitter have suspended processing government requests for user data in Hong Kong, they said on Monday, following China’s imposition of the new national security law on the semi-autonomous city.

Facebook, which started operating in Hong Kong in 2010, last year opened a big new office in the city.

It sells more than $5 billion a year worth of ad space to Chinese businesses and government agencies looking to promote messages abroad, Reuters reported in January. That makes China Facebook’s biggest country for revenue after the United States.

The U.S. internet firms are no strangers to governments demands regarding content and user information, and generally say they are bound by local laws.

The companies have often used a technique known as “geo-blocking” to restrict content in a particular country without removing it altogether.

But the sweeping language of Hong Kong’s new law could mean such measures won’t be enough. Authorities will no longer need to get court orders before requesting assistance or information, analysts said.

Requests for data about overseas users would put the companies in an especially tough spot.

“It’s a global law … if they comply with national security law in Hong Kong then there is the problem that they may violate laws in other countries,” said Francis Fong Po-kiu, honorary president of Hong Kong’s Information Technology Federation.

CONTENT QUESTION

While the U.S. social media services are blocked in mainland China, they have operated freely in Hong Kong.

Other U.S. internet platforms are also rich with content that is banned in mainland China and may now be judged illegal in Hong Kong.

U.S. video streaming site Netflix, for example, carries “Joshua: Teenager vs. Superpower”, a 2017 documentary on activist Joshua Wong whose books were removed from Hong Kong public libraries last week.

“Ten Years”, a 2015 film that has been criticized by Chinese state media for portraying a dystopian future Hong Kong under Chinese Communist Party control, is also available on its platform.

Netflix declined to comment.

Google’s YouTube is a popular platform for critics of Beijing. New York-based fugitive tycoon Guo Wengui has regularly voiced support for Hong Kong protesters in his videos. Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

None of these companies has yet said how they will handle requests from Hong Kong to block or remove content, and the risk of being caught in political crossfire looms large.

“The foreign content players have to rethink what they display in Hong Kong,” said Duncan Clark, chairman at consultancy BDA China.

“The downside is very big if they get U.S. senators on their backs for accommodating. Any move they make will be heavily scrutinized.”

(Reporting by Brenda Goh and Pei Li; Additional reporting by Cate Cadell in Beijing and Anne Marie Roantree in Hong Kong; Editing by Jonathan Weber and Robert Birsel)

Facebook, Twitter suspend processing of government data requests in Hong Kong

By Katie Paul

(Reuters) – Facebook Inc and Twitter Inc have suspended processing government requests for user data in Hong Kong, they said on Monday, following China’s establishment of a new national security law for the semi-autonomous city.

Facebook, which also owns WhatsApp and Instagram, is “pausing” reviews for all of its services “pending further assessment of the National Security Law,” it said in a statement.

Twitter said it had suspended all information requests from Hong Kong authorities immediately after the law went into effect last week, citing “grave concerns” about its implications.

The companies did not specify whether the suspensions would also apply to government requests for removals of user-generated content from its services in Hong Kong.

Social networks often apply localized restrictions to posts that violate local laws but not their own rules for acceptable speech. Facebook restricted 394 such pieces of content in Hong Kong in the second half of 2019, up from eight restrictions in the first half of the year.

Tech companies have long operated freely in Hong Kong, a regional financial hub where internet access has been unaffected by restrictions imposed in mainland China, which blocks Google, Twitter and Facebook.

Last week, China’s parliament passed sweeping new national security legislation for the semi-autonomous city, setting the stage for the most radical changes to the former British colony’s way of life since it returned to Chinese rule 23 years ago.

Some Hong Kong residents said they were reviewing their previous posts on social media related to pro-democracy protests and the security law, and proactively deleting ones they thought would be viewed as sensitive.

The legislation pushed China further along a collision course with the United States, with which it is already in disputes over trade, the South China sea and the coronavirus.

(Reporting by Katie Paul in San Francisco and Akanksha Rana in Bengaluru; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri and Richard Chang)

Facebook, Snapchat join chorus of companies condemning George Floyd death, racism

(Reuters) – Facebook Inc and Snap Inc became the latest U.S. companies condemning racial inequality in the United States as violent protests flared up across major cities over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died while in police custody in Minneapolis last week.

The two tech companies stood with Intel Corp, Netflix Inc and Nike Inc in taking a public stance against Floyd’s death – voicing concerns about discrimination against African-Americans.

“We stand with the Black community – and all those working towards justice in honor of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and far too many others whose names will not be forgotten,” Facebook’s Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post late Sunday.

He said the social network will commit $10 million to organizations that are working on racial justice.

The arrest of Floyd, 46, was captured by an onlooker’s cell phone video that went viral and showed a police officer restraining him while pressing his knee on Floyd’s neck as he moaned: “Please, I can’t breathe.”

His death caused yet another round of outrage across the nation on the treatment of African-Americans by police officers, polarizing the country politically and racially as states begin to ease lockdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I am heartbroken and enraged by the treatment of black people and people of color in America,” Snapchat Chief Executive Officer Evan Spiegel said in an internal memo.

“We must begin a process to ensure that America’s black community is heard throughout the country.”

On Friday, Nike flipped its iconic slogan to raise awareness about racism.

“For Once, Don’t Do It. Don’t pretend there’s not a problem in America. Don’t turn your back on racism,” the company said in a video that has over six million views and was shared by celebrities and rival Adidas AG.

(Reporting by Neha Malara in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Uday Sampath; Editing by Sweta Singh, Bernard Orr)

Facebook names first members of oversight board that can overrule Zuckerberg

By Elizabeth Culliford

(Reuters) – Facebook Inc’s new content oversight board will include a former prime minister, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate and several constitutional law experts and rights advocates among its first 20 members, the company announced on Wednesday.

The independent board, which some have dubbed Facebook’s “Supreme Court,” will be able to overturn decisions by the company and Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg on whether individual pieces of content should be allowed on Facebook and Instagram.

Facebook has long faced criticism for high-profile content moderation issues. They range from temporarily removing a famous Vietnam-era war photo of a naked girl fleeing a napalm attack, to failing to combat hate speech in Myanmar against the Rohingya and other Muslims.

The oversight board will focus on a small slice of challenging content issues including hate speech and harassment and people’s safety.

Facebook said the board’s members have lived in 27 countries and speak at least 29 languages, though a quarter of the group and two of the four co-chairs are from the United States, where the company is headquartered.

The co-chairs, who selected the other members jointly with Facebook, are former U.S. federal circuit judge and religious freedom expert Michael McConnell, constitutional law expert Jamal Greene, Colombian attorney Catalina Botero-Marino and former Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt.

Among the initial cohort are: former European Court of Human Rights judge András Sajó, Internet Sans Frontières Executive Director Julie Owono, Yemeni activist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Tawakkol Karman, former editor-in-chief of the Guardian Alan Rusbridger, and Pakistani digital rights advocate Nighat Dad.

Nick Clegg, Facebook’s head of global affairs, told Reuters in a Skype interview the board’s composition was important but that its credibility would be earned over time.

“I don’t expect people to say, ‘Oh hallelujah, these are great people, this is going to be a great success’ – there’s no reason anyone should believe that this is going to be a great success until it really starts hearing difficult cases in the months and indeed years to come,” he said.

The board will start work immediately and Clegg said it would begin hearing cases this summer.

The board, which will grow to about 40 members and which Facebook has pledged $130 million to fund for at least six years, will make public, binding decisions on controversial cases where users have exhausted Facebook’s usual appeals process.

The company can also refer significant decisions to the board, including on ads or on Facebook groups. The board can make policy recommendations to Facebook based on case decisions, to which the company will publicly respond.

Initially, the board will focus on cases where content was removed and Facebook expects it to take on only “dozens” of cases to start, a small percentage of the thousands it expects will be brought to the board.

“We are not the internet police, don’t think of us as sort of a fast-action group that’s going to swoop in and deal with rapidly moving problems,” co-chair McConnell said on a conference call.

The board’s case decisions must be made and implemented within 90 days, though Facebook can ask for a 30-day review for exceptional cases.

“We’re not working for Facebook, we’re trying to pressure Facebook to improve its policies and its processes to better respect human rights. That’s the job,” board member and internet governance researcher Nicolas Suzor told Reuters. “I’m not so naive that I think that that’s going to be a very easy job.”

He said board members had differing views on freedom of expression and when it can legitimately be curtailed.

John Samples, vice president of the libertarian Cato Institute, has praised Facebook’s decision not to remove a doctored video of U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Sajó has cautioned against allowing the “offended” to have too much influence in the debate around online expression.

Some free speech and internet governance experts told Reuters they thought the board’s first members were a diverse, impressive group, though some were concerned it was too heavy on U.S. members. Facebook said one reason for that was that some of its hardest decisions or appeals in recent years had begun in America.

“I don’t feel like they made any daring choices,” said Jillian C. York, the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s director of international freedom of expression.

Jes Kaliebe Petersen, CEO of Myanmar tech-focused civil society organization Phandeeyar, said he hoped the board would apply more “depth” to moderation issues, compared with Facebook’s universal set of community standards.

David Kaye, U.N. special rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, said the board’s efficacy would be shown when it started hearing cases.

“The big question,” he said, “will be, are they taking questions that might result in decisions, or judgments as this is a court, that go against Facebook’s business interests?”

(Reporting by Elizabeth Culliford in Birmingham, England; Editing by Tom Brown and Matthew Lewis)