Some people have likened Facebook’s Oversight Board to the Supreme Court because of its power to alter the website’s content moderation decisions, in addition to holding other significant roles.
But what exactly is the Oversight Board? And what does it hope to achieve? This article will answer both of those questions and more.
What Is the Facebook Oversight Board and What Does It Do?
In May 2021, the Facebook Oversight Board ruled that while Facebook was right to suspend former US President Donald Trump’s account, an indefinite ban was inappropriate. But what is the Oversight Board and what do they actually do?
The Oversight Board is an independent body that decides what content on Facebook and Instagram should either be removed or kept up.
You can contact the board if you’re unhappy with a content-related decision made by Facebook or Instagram. It doesn’t matter if it’s your own content that might have been removed, or if it’s someone else’s that has remained up.
Content eligible for appeal includes photos, videos, posts, comments, and shares.
How Does the Oversight Board’s Appeals Process Work?
You can submit an appeal to the board, as long as you meet four conditions:
- Your account must be active at the time of appeal.
- The decision Facebook has made is final.
- The decision you’re appealing must not have broken country-specific laws.
- You must submit an appeal within 15 days.
The board evaluates which cases it will review from a selection criteria. Once it has chosen one, a decision will be made within 90 days.
A panel of members from the board will be assigned to the case to reach a draft decision. Once they’ve done this, the entire board will review. After a final decision has been made, the group will publish a statement on its website.
Facebook must implement the Oversight Board’s final decision—unless it violates the law.
Who Are the Oversight Board’s Members?
The Oversight Board has former prime ministers, CEOs, and Nobel Peace Prize laureates among its members.
At the moment, it has 20 members from a variety of backgrounds, cultures, opinions, and beliefs. Eventually, the membership count will rise to 40.
Each member has a background in governance and working with digital content, and can demonstrate the ability to make decisions according to a set policy.
The board unites worldwide expertise with the goal of reflecting Facebook’s own diverse user base. Membership recommendations can be made by anyone and are managed by the Baker McKenzie law firm.
What Are the Oversight Board’s Guiding Principles?
The Oversight Board adheres to a number of guiding principles, with independence at the forefront, followed by empowerment, accessibility, and transparency.
The body cites independent judgement as its most important function, reflected by having a supporting trust and company independent from Facebook.
Its principle of empowerment ensures that the group can give Facebook and Instagram binding orders to uphold or reverse content moderation decisions.
The board aims to allow anyone to appeal content moderation decisions on Facebook and Instagram that they do not agree with. Appeals can be made through the Oversight Board’s website.
To adhere to the commitment of transparency, annual reports are published and written decisions are archived.
What Does the Oversight Board Hope to Achieve?
The Oversight Board aims to promote freedom of expression through an independent decision-making process regarding content moderation on Facebook and Instagram.
However, not all appeals are reviewed. Instead, the group will choose difficult and prominent cases that are globally relevant.
Decisions made from these significant cases will help guide future content moderation policies for Facebook and Instagram.
Everything You Need To Know About the Oversight Board
So, there you have it. Now you know what the Facebook Oversight Board is, and why it exists. The group aims to ensure Facebook makes fair content moderation decisions, while also giving users a chance to express their discontent if that’s what they feel.
Although your appeal may not get anywhere, trying to contact the board is a good idea if you don’t agree with a decision made against either your account or someone else’s account.
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