Facebook Oversight Board Appoints Human Rights Expert

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Can independent oversight board restore faith in Facebook’s and Mark Zuckerberg’s handling of questionable content?

Facebook has recommended rules for how its independent oversight board will work, which is expected to make final decisions about objectionable content on the social platform.

Facebook announced the oversight board in September 2019, amid concerns about the platform hosting questionable content from certain groups.

The move came as governments around the world continue to pressure social networking firms to crack down on hate speech and other extremist content.

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Oversight board

To this end Facebook has now reportedly recommended the rules the independent oversight board will follow.

It also appointed a former human rights expert Thomas Hughes to lead the board’s administrative staff.

Hughes is former executive director for freedom of expression rights group Article 19, according to Reuters, and will oversee the board’s administrative staff.

Its first offices will be in the United States and United Kingdom.

It seems that the board, which will grow to about 40 members (to be named later in 2020), will serve three year terms.

The Facebook Oversight Board is designed to take the decision making over content out of Facebook’s remit, and can even overrule CEO Mark Zuckerberg over objectionable content decisions.

The board is essentially designed to be a type of appeals body, through which users can challenge company decisions on controversial content.

Summer 2020

Brent Harris, Facebook’s head of governance and global affairs, told Reuters that the social networking giant hoped the board, which will also be able to recommend policy changes, will start hearing cases this summer.

Facebook has already pledged $130 million to fund the board for about six years.

Cases to be examined by the board will reportedly be referred either by Facebook itself, or by a user who has exhausted the appeals process.

Reuters reported that the proposed bylaws give a 90-day period for the board to make a decision and Facebook to act on it. For cases with “urgent real-world consequences,” there will a 30-day expedited review.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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