Facebook introduces an Oversight Board – here’s what that means
Will it actually make a difference?
For two and a half years, Facebook has been working on a new system that should make content moderation a bit fairer.
This new system is a case management tool whose foundation will be the Oversight Board. The Oversight Board consists of reputable journalists, former judges, and lawyers. In the beginning, the Oversight Board consisted of four co-chairs. Currently, the board has 16 members, while the final number of board members is aimed at 40 members worldwide.
The purpose of the Oversight Board
The board won’t replace content moderators, but it will act as an individual body to defend the “right to free speech” for the 2.7 billion Facebook users. For example, let’s say an individual believes that Facebook content moderators have unjustly erased a post. It is within the power of that user to raise an appeal with the new Oversight Board.
Then the board will look into that claim in the same manner as a court. There is no surprise that the idea of an Oversight Board came from a Harvard law professor. If the Oversight Board finds that Facebook wrongfully erased the user’s post, Facebook will need to restore it. Furthermore, the company can forward post disputes on its own. The Oversight Board also holds the right to suggest modifications to Facebook’s policies.
Helle Thorning-Schmidt, a former prime minister in Denmark that serves as a co-chair on the board, said that they plan to hold Facebook accountable to its commitment.
Why does Facebook need an Oversight Board?
Facebook’s trust problems are nothing new. The public, regulators, and politicians have continuously questioned the company’s policies. By including an independent Oversight Board, Facebook wants to show people that they don’t make every decision to serve their interests and the interest of their shareholders.
How independent this board will be?
The social giant won’t directly fund the board but it will be funded through a trust that will receive around $130 million from Facebook. That’s enough funding for the Oversight Board to be operational for many years. This way, Facebook can’t hold onto funding to influence the board.
Facebook even made a public promise to abide by every decision that will come from the board. Additionally, the board is also required to release a report concerning their decisions.
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