How the Oversight Board sparked a standoff in Cambodia

Is Meta’s money-for-backbone trade finally working?

As Americans headed into a long holiday last weekend, an entire country nearly lost access to Facebook.


The problems began in January, when Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen gave a speech threatening opposition leaders who challenged election results, broadcast widely through his Facebook page. The speech was predictably followed by mob violence offline, and opposition groups quickly called for the video to be taken down, citing Meta’s rules about incitement to violence. Meta left the video up, ultimately sending the case to the Oversight Board and waiting for a ruling before it took further action.

Last week, the Oversight Board finally made its ruling: The prime minister’s video had directly inspired violence, and should be taken down. (Meta has since removed the video.) The Board also recommended that Meta suspend Hun Sen from all its platforms. On Friday morning, the Cambodian government retaliated, officially expelling Facebook representatives from the country. The prime minister also said he was considering blocking Facebook “for a short period or forever.”

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