Judicial Watch — May 29, 2020
The recently appointed Facebook oversight board that will decide which posts get blocked from the world’s most popular social networking website is stacked with leftists, including a close friend of leftwing billionaire George Soros who served on the board of directors of his Open Society Foundations (OSF). Judicial Watch conducted a deep dive into the new panel that will make content rulings for the technology company that was slammed last year with a $5 billion fine for privacy violations. The information uncovered by Judicial Watch shows that the group of 20 is overwhelmingly leftist and likely to restrict conservative views. More than half of the members have ties to Soros, the philanthropist who dedicates huge sums to spreading a radical left agenda that includes targeting conservative politicians. Other Facebook oversight board members have publicly expressed their disdain for President Donald Trump or made political contributions to top Democrats such as Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren. As one New York newspaper editorial determined this month, the new Facebook board is a “recipe for left-wing censorship.”
Among the standouts is András Sajó, the founding Dean of Legal Studies at Soros’ Central European University. Sajó was a judge at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) for nearly a decade. He also served on the board of directors of OSF’s Justice Initiative. Sajó was one of the ECHR judges in an Italian case (Latusi v. Italy) that ruled unanimously that the display of a crucifix in public schools in Italy violates the European Convention on Human Rights. The decision was subsequently overturned. Sajó’s deep ties to Soros are also concerning. Through his OSF Soros funds a multitude of projects worldwide aimed at spreading a leftist agenda by, among other things, destabilizing legitimate governments, erasing national borders and identities, financing civil unrest and orchestrating refugee crises for political gain. Incredibly, there is a financial and staffing nexus between the U.S. government and Soros’ OSF. Read about it in a Judicial Watch special report documenting how Soros advances his leftist agenda at U.S. taxpayer expense.
At least 10 other members of the Facebook oversight board are connected to leftist groups tied to Soros that have benefitted from his generous donations, according to Judicial Watch’s research. Alan Rusbridger, a former British newspaper editor and principal at Oxford University, serves on the board of directors of the Committee to Protect Journalists, which received $750,000 from OSF in 2018. Rusbridger also served as a governor at a global thinktank, Ditchley Foundation, that co-hosted a conference with OSF on change in the Middle East and North Africa as well as understanding political Islam. Afia Asantewaa Sariyev, a human rights attorney, is the program manager at Soros’ Open Society Initiative for West Africa. Her research includes critical race feminism and socio-economic rights of the poor. Sudhir Krishnaswamy, an Indian lawyer and civil society activist, runs a progressive nonprofit called Centre for Law and Policy Research that focuses on transgender rights, gender equality and public health. The group is a grantee of a justice foundation that received $1.4 million from OSF between 2016 and 2018. Krishnaswamy’s Centre also received money from a radical pro-abortion group, Center for Reproductive Rights, generously funded by the OSF.
The list of Facebook judges connected to Soros and the organized left continues. Julie Owono is the executive director of a Paris-based nonprofit, Internet Sans Frontieres, that advocates for privacy and freedom of expression online. In 2018, Internet Sans Frontieres became a member of the Global Network Initiative, an internet oversight and policy consortium handsomely funded by Soros. Nighat Dad is a Pakistani attorney and the founder of the Digital Rights Foundation, a nonprofit organization based in Pakistan that has received $114,000 in grants from OSF. Dad’s group also gets funding from Facebook Ireland. Ronaldo Lemos, a Brazilian law professor, served on the board of directors of the Mozilla Foundation, which collected $350,000 from OSF in 2016 and was also a board member at another group, Access Now, that also got thousands of dollars from Soros. Tawakkol Karman, a journalist and civil rights activist, sits on the advisory board of Transparency International, which gets significant funding from Soros’ OSF.
Rounding out the Soros-affiliated field on the new Facebook censorship board are Helle Thorning-Schmidt, Catalina Botero-Marino and Maina Kiai. Thorning-Schmidt, Denmark’s former prime minister, sits on the board of the European Council of Foreign Relations, which took in more $3.6 million from OSF in 2016 and 2017. She is also a trustee at the International Crisis Group which has collected over $8.2 million from OSF and includes George and Alexander Soros on its board. The former Danish prime minister is also a member of the Atlantic Council’s International Advisory Board, which received approximately $325,000 from OSF in the last few years and the European Advisory Board of the Center for Global Development, which got north of half a million dollars from OSF in 2018. Botero-Marino is the dean of a Colombian law school called Universidad de Los Andes that obtained more than $1.3 million from OSF between 2016 and 2018, the records obtained by Judicial Watch show. Botero-Marino also sits on the panel of experts at Columbia University’s Global Freedom Expression Project, which gets funding from OSF, and she was a board member at Article 19, a group that got about $1.7 million from OSF between 2016 and 2018. Kiai is the director of the Global Alliances and Partnerships at Human Rights Watch, which accepted $275,000 from OSF in 2018. He is also a member of OSF’s Human Rights Initiative advisory board and was the founding executive director of the Kenya Human Rights Commission, which got $615,000 from Soros in the last two years.
Others on the Facebook board have slandered President Trump in social media posts and donated money to high-profile Democrats. Taiwanese communications professor Katherine Chen’s Twitter account includes retweets of numerous anti-Trump and pro-Obama posts and articles. Nicolas Suzor, a law professor in Australia, retweeted a column implicitly comparing Trump to Hitler and Columbia University law professor Jamal Greene has made campaign contributions to Obama, Hillary Clinton and Warren. Pro-Trump impeachment Stanford law professor Pamela Karlan, who took a cheap shot at President Trump’s teenage son during the Brett Kavanaugh impeachment hearings, has also contributed money to Obama, Hillary Clinton and Warren. The new board has only a few token conservatives such as Stanford law professor Michael McConnell, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. The overwhelming majority of those making Facebook’s “final and binding decisions on whether specific content should be allowed or removed,” are leftists. They represent a new model of content moderation that will uphold “freedom of expression within the framework of international norms of human rights.” Facebook’s economic, political or reputational interests will not interfere in the process, the company writes in its introduction to the new board. Eventually the board, which will begin hearing cases later this year, will double in size. “The cases we choose to hear may be contentious, and we will not please everyone with our decisions,” Facebook warns.