Latest insights about Facebook and Instagram’s new supreme court styled Oversight board

Facebook has finally announced the first 20 members of its new oversight board. These members belong to various cultural, professional, political, and religious backgrounds.

The purpose of this oversight board is to review challenging content posted on Facebook and Instagram. The board members will decide which content can stay up on the platforms and which content needs to go down due to serious problems like hate speech, harassment, or violation of public privacy and information security.

Theoretically speaking, this board will have the power to over-rule the decisions of Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg as well, who usually found deeply involved in content moderation problems!

Social media platforms have always faced the challenge of controversial content and there has always been a debate about who can have the authority to review this content and decide about its fate. Facebook especially faced this problem for a long time, as it is one of the most popular and widely used apps; not to mention that it becomes the hub of controversial content the most.

Therefore, realizing the need for an authoritative body to address this issue, in 2018, Facebook announced the intention of forming an oversight board, comprising of extremely learned and completely independent members from all walks of like.

After many interviews and a thorough selection process, finally, on 6th May 2020, Facebook announced its first 20 members of the oversight board.

These board members belong to 27 different countries, speaking more than 29 languages. They are all diverse professionally as well.

The first four co-chair members who later selected other members in collaboration with Facebook are Michael McConnell, a former US federal circuit judge and religious freedom expert, Jamal Greene who is a constitutional law expert, former Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt and Colombian attorney Catalina Botero-Marino.

Other important members include András Sajó, who is an ex-judge for the European Court of Human Rights, Julie Owono who is an Executive Director for Internet Sans Frontières, Tawakkol Karman who is a Nobel Peace Prize laureate from Yemen, Nighat Dad who is digital rights advocate from Pakistan and Nicolas Suzor who is an Internet governance researcher from Australia.

This board will eventually grow to 40 members. Facebook has pledged $130 million to fund the board for at least six years. It will start working and effectively begin taking binding decisions about controversial cases from this summer.

This board can redefine Facebook’s policies by giving recommendations based on different cases, and Facebook will have to publicly respond to them.

On the other hand, Facebook can also refer to important decisions to the board.

Surprisingly, there are not many members for content moderation on this board, and this is a slight cause of concern. Apart from this, at the moment, all seems great since the members of the board appear to be quite impressive. But only time can tell how effective this whole notion will be where content filtration and policing is concerned.

All these members claim to be committed to freedom of speech and expression within the bounds of international human rights. Their decisions will be based on the common interests and principles for all the users of Facebook, regardless of the economic or political interests of the company.

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