OTI Won't Take Facebook Funding

Digital tech policy group the Open Technology Institute (OTI), whose funders include some major computer companies and edge players, among many others, has broken with Facebook, or at least its funding, over the issue of content moderation.

According to OTI director Sarah Morris, OTI will decline further funding starting Tuesday, June 9.

"Last week, leadership at Facebook refused to take down a post from President Donald Trump threatening that 'when the looting starts, the shooting starts' in reference to nationwide demonstrations against police brutality, as well as other posts from the President that promoted disinformation about mail-in voting," OTI said. "In reflection on Facebook’s years of struggles to implement content moderation policies that do not reinforce systems of racism, and in light of the failure of the company’s leaders to respond meaningfully to concerns raised against the backdrop of the past weeks’ deep turmoil, the Open Technology Institute has decided that, as of today, it will decline further funding from Facebook."

That was in contrast to Twitter, which put a fact check label on the President's tweets about mail-in ballots and a violence label on his tweet about looters.

"[L]ast week Facebook’s leadership doubled down in defense of the decision to allow posts from the President that included calls to violence and false information about primary elections. While Facebook has suggested it may revisit its policies around false and incendiary political speech, the totality of the company’s words, timing, and actions matters," said Morris.

“We must do more to hold companies and ourselves accountable," she said, then put those words into action with the announced funding cut-off, though the group was not cutting ties entirely. "OTI will continue to engage with the company on a variety of policy issues, and we hope to maintain a constructive dialogue going forward as we work toward meaningful change,” she said.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.