An Alternative Facebook Oversight Board?

The scope of Facebook’s Oversight Board and the addition from The Citizens

Facebook has in the recent decade come under increasing scrutiny and criticism. One way it seems to address these concerns is by creating a Facebook Oversight Board.

“The Oversight Board is an entity that makes content moderation decisions on the social media platform Facebook, specifically about handling appeals for blocked or removed content.”

It was proposed in 2018 by Mark Zuckerberg and its first members were announced The 20 members of the Oversight Committee were announced on the 6th of May 2020.

It seems at the current time that the Oversight Board will not be active during the American election.

This article is about an organisation called The Citizens and their discussion about creating an alternative Facebook Oversight Board.

“In November 2018, Mark Zuckerberg announced a new ‘independent’ body to provide outside oversight and in May this year the first 20 members of its new Oversight Board were announced. But it’s still not operational and even if it was, it only has limited powers to rule on whether content that was taken down should go back up. And once a case has been referred to it, this self-styled ‘Supreme Court’ can take up to 90 days to reach a verdict. This doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of the many urgent risks the platform poses to the upcoming election.”

Furthermore, they say:

“So, instead, we’re launching our own Oversight Board. The Real Facebook Oversight Board. We’re not waiting for another election to go wrong. We believe accountability in real-time is vital.”

This group that consists of 25 people so far from academia, civil rights, politics and journalism announced this Friday that they would create an alternative Oversight Board.

Their first meeting is through Facebook Live on the 1st of October.

The actual Facebook Oversight Board is said to start operating from October.

The alternative Facebook Oversight Board (FBOB) will of course not be able to make binding decisions, however they may provide important criticism. NBC news wrote about a few of these experts from the alternative FBOB:

“The board is made up of about 25 experts, among them Shoshana Zuboff, author of "The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power"; Maria Ressa, a co-founder of the Filipino independent news site Rappler; Rashad Robinson, president of the civil rights nonprofit Color of Change; Derrick Johnson, president of the NAACP; Reed Galen, a co-founder of the conservative anti-Trump super PAC The Lincoln Project; Ruha Benjamin, an associate professor of African American studies at Princeton University; Marietje Schaake, a Dutch politician who is international policy director at Stanford University’s Cyber Policy Center; Toomas Hendrik Ilves, the former president of Estonia; Safiya Noble, an associate professor of information studies and African American studies at UCLA; Damian Collins, a member of the British Parliament; tech investor Roger McNamee, a frequent Facebook critic; and ex-CIA officer Yael Eisenstat, former head of election integrity operations for political ads at Facebook.”

An impressive ensemble that will have a weekly Zoom meeting to discuss these matters.

According to NBC News Facebook has not welcomed this alternative board. A representative from Facebook (Brent Harris, Facebook’s director of governance and global affairs) seems to have attempted to dissuade some of The Citizens funders.

A company has been set up for Facebook’s own effort called Oversight Board LLC. According to NBC News this new board will be limited in the beginning:

“Facebook’s board will be restricted in scope at its launch, reviewing only content that Facebook has already taken down, rather than deliberating over controversial content the company decided to leave up.”

Given that this is the scope I do think there is a real need for The Citizens and their discussions.

October is approaching rapidly, as decision are made on social media content all over the world.

This is #500daysofAI and you are reading article 480. I am writing one new article about or related to artificial intelligence every day for 500 days.

Written by

AI Policy and Ethics at www.nora.ai. Student at University of Copenhagen MSc in Social Data Science. All views are my own. twitter.com/AlexMoltzau

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