The world’s largest social platform has tapped the law firm of Covington and Burling to advise them against allegations of liberal bias and conservative censorship, both on Facebook and internally.
Interestingly, Covington and Burling claim as a partner one Eric Holder, former U.S. Attorney General under Barack Obama and the first African-American to hold the position.
In June of 2012 Mr. Holder also became the first U.S. Attorney General in American history to be held in both criminal and civil contempt for failure to turn over documents related to the notorious ‘Fast and Furious’ gun-running scandal.
Holder was a partner at Covington and Burling from 2001-2009, then rejoined the firm after serving as the 82nd attorney general. Holder, who has repeatedly mentioned he is entertaining a 2020 presidential run himself, has been retained by the state of California for their anxiously anticipated showdowns with President Donald Trump and his administration.
Breitbart summarized this scenario nicely- “Facebook- a California based company, has enlisted the same firm that is providing legal advice to their state against the Trump administration,- through none other than Eric Holder-, to advise them on combating perceptions of bias against conservatives.”
Covington and Burling is actually one of two firms recruited by Facebook in a desperate attempt to convince both investors and users of its integrity and soundness.
According to Axios, Washington-based Relman, Dane &Colfax will be performing a “legal audit of Facebook’s impact on underrepresented communities and communities of color.” National civil rights expert Laura Murphy will review this as well as feedback from civil rights groups before making recommendations to the company.
At Washington-based Covington & Burling, former Arizona Republican Senator Jon Kyl and his colleagues will be pursuing allegations of liberal bias, examining concerns, receiving feedback from conservative groups and advising Facebook on the best practices moving forward.
A recent major Facebook outreach to conservative organizations appears to have less to do with their censorship issues and focuses on securing free-market allies as the threat of regulation looms.
The firm invited a number of free market groups and conservative think tanks to a Washington meeting regarding the company’s privacy scandals, and then allegedly required that each attendee sign a non-disclosure agreement if they wished to attend. Of course, the NDA included the fact that they must not even mention the NDA. According to a Breitbart report, one policy expert floated the question “If it [the meeting] is about public policy, why would I be legally bound to secrecy?”
Conservatives have alleged Facebook bias for years with claims that the company’s reviewers ‘suppressed’ conservative content finally generating a Senate Committee inquiry in 2016.
In a letter to CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Republican Senator John Thune (SD) demanded that Facebook explain how it handled news articles for its ‘Trending ‘ list in response to reports that staff members had intentionally suppressed articles from conservative sources.
Most recently, the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing featuring popular conservative personalities, sisters and Trump supporters Lynnette Hardaway and Rochelle Richardson, aka “Diamond and Silk”. The duo claims the social platform limited the reach of their videos because they are conservative. The African-American personalities were informed by Facebook that their ‘content and brand has been determined to be unsafe for the community’.
U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) issued a searing statement on Capitol Hill on Tuesday. Scott called the social media giant’s actions discrimination, adding that Facebook’s leadership “… would have to look up the definition of ‘diversity’, because they have none…”
The Senator continued, “Tell me, if they were two African-American liberals espousing their views about a liberal political figure, would they too be considered ‘unsafe’? I don’t think they would.”
Scott then repeated the question Diamond and Silk had for Zuckerberg- “What is unsafe about two black women supporting the president?”
As anti-Silicon Valley sentiment rises, a group of over 60 conservative leaders has issued a joint statement alleging a sharp increase in discussion of online censorship. The letter states social media firms have banned gun videos and rejected pro-life advertisements. Conservative tech employees have their speech limited and careers harmed.
The letter provide four key areas to rectify, including providing clarity on ‘hate speech’ and mirroring the First Amendment as interpreted by the Supreme Court.
Looks like Covington and Burling have a long uphill climb ahead of them.
~ Liberty Planet