Facebook to setup oversight board

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Facebook to setup oversight board
Facebook to setup oversight board

Facebook whose EMEA headquarters are in Dublin has unveiled its plan to create an independent “oversight” board to make decisions over how the network is moderated.

The firm insisted the panel, which will hear its first “cases” in 2020, will have power to override decisions it makes over contentious material and influence new policy.

The idea, dubbed the Facebook supreme court, will eventually comprise 40 people around the world, but will be smaller at first.

The board will launch with no fewer than 11 part-time members, Facebook said, and the names of those appointed will be made public – as will the results of their deliberations. The board will be paid via a trust set up and funded by Facebook upfront.

“We are responsible for enforcing our policies every day and we make millions of content decisions every week,” wrote Facebook’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg. “But ultimately I don’t believe private companies like ours should be making so many important decisions about speech on our own.”

How would the process work?

Facebook outlined how the board would operate in a charter published on Tuesday. The goals of the panel, as stated by Facebook, are to:

  • “Provide oversight of Facebook’s content decisions”
  • “Reverse Facebook’s decisions when necessary”
  • “Be an independent authority outside of Facebook”

Major disagreements will be escalated to the panel once all of Facebook’s existing moderation layers had been exhausted. Facebook controls which cases are submitted to the board, although panel members will decide which of those cases to take on.

Facebook anticipated that the board would only consider “dozens” of cases a year, focusing on those where a clear decision would be in “the greatest public benefit”.

Users affected will be allowed to state their case in a written statement, but Facebook said it anticipated some board members may wish to speak to users “face-to-face”.

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