New oversight board will have final say over Facebook’s content decisions


Facebook on Tuesday released the charter for an oversight board that it is creating to review its content moderation decisions amid blowback over how it handles issues like hate speech and political content.

Company CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who first announced the plans for the board last year, wrote in an open letter on Tuesday that the new body is meant to give users confidence that there is a process in place to protect their free speech rights.

{mosads}“If someone disagrees with a decision we’ve made, they can appeal to us first, and soon they will be able to further appeal to this independent board,” Zuckerberg wrote. “The board’s decision will be binding, even if I or anyone at Facebook disagrees with it. The board will use our values to inform its decisions and explain its reasoning openly and in a way that protects people’s privacy.”

The oversight board will be set up like a supreme court for the social network and will be able to overrule the company on content decisions.

“A final decision will include a determination on the content, as well as a corresponding plain language explanation of the board’s rationale,” the charter for Facebook’s oversight board reads. “At the board’s discretion, the final decision may include a policy advisory statement, which will be taken into consideration by Facebook to guide its future policy development.”

Zuckerberg first announced his intention to create an independent board in November 2018, saying that the company alone should not be responsible for creating rules for the speech of its more than 2 billion users. Zuckerberg also called on governments around the world to clarify what constitutes harmful speech that needs to be cracked down on online.

The board will have a maximum of 40 seats, with Facebook selecting some of the first members, who will then help fill out the rest of the board.

Board members will be allowed to stay anonymous if they wish in order to maintain their “safety and independent judgment.” The board will also include smaller panels focusing on specific issues.

The oversight board will be overseen by a trust funded by Facebook that will formally appoint members and ensure that the board is operating in accordance with its charter.

“Building institutions that protect free expression and online communities is important for the future of the internet,” Zuckerberg wrote. “I’m looking forward to seeing how the board evolves.”

Updated at 5:21 p.m.

Tags Facebook free speech Mark Zuckerberg oversight board

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