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Facebook's oversight board begins accepting appeals

Facebook's oversight board begins accepting appeals
© getty

Facebook’s oversight board announced Thursday that it will begin allowing people to submit cases for review.

The independent decisionmaking body was first previewed by Facebook in 2018 as a way to oversee the platform’s content moderation decisions.

The 40-member body has individuals from all over the world, including co-chairs Helle Thorning-Schmidt, a former Danish prime minister; Michael McConnell, a constitutional law professor at Stanford University; Jamal Greene, a Columbia law professor; and Catalina Botero-Marino, dean of Universidad de los Andes faculty of law.

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“The Board is eager to get to work,” Botero-Marino said Thursday. “We won’t be able to hear every appeal, but want our decisions to have the widest possible value, and will be prioritizing cases that have the potential to impact many users around the world, are of critical importance to public discourse, and raise questions about Facebook’s policies.” 

The oversight board is meant to eventually have final and binding say over whether content should be allowed on, or taken down from, Facebook and Instagram. It is set up as a separate company from Facebook funded through an independent trust.

For now, it will only hear cases about content that has been removed. Any user who feels a post has been unfairly taken down will have the ability to appeal that decision, although there is no guarantee that the board will take up any particular case.

Users will not be able to flag third-party content for the time being. Cases will be decided within a 90-day window by a panel of five oversight board members.

The board’s roll out has not been without criticism.

Last month, 25 of Facebook’s most vocal critics announced the creation of a group to analyze and weigh in on the platform’s moderation decisions dubbed the Real Facebook Oversight Board.

It has also drawn alarm from lawmakers who have questioned whether it is adequately equipped to handle harmful content on Facebook.