Facebook Promotes Independent Oversight Body For Content Policy

Trying to stave off greater oversight by government regulators, Facebook is pumping up plans for its previously announced oversight board.

Facebook released a working model for making content-policing decisions in January. The draft charter expanded on a plan, unveiled last November by CEO Mark Zuckerberg, to give an independent body some say over the tech titan’s policy.

“As we build out the board, we want to make sure it is able to render independent judgment, is transparent and respects privacy,” said Nick Clegg, vice president of global affairs and communications at Facebook and former U.K. deputy prime minister, at the time.

Now, Clegg is taking a more aggressive stance in promoting the board as a self-regulating body.

“I don’t think it’s right for private companies to set the rules of the road for something which is as profoundly important as how technology serves society,” Clegg told BBC Radio 4’s "Today" show on Monday. He's expected to deliver much the same message during a speech in Berlin this week.

For Facebook, the ultimate goal is to convince critics that its platform doesn’t discriminate against users based on their views, political affiliations or other unique characteristics.  

The primary function of the board will be to review decisions that Facebook makes when enforcing its Community Standards. The board’s decisions will be binding on the specific content brought for review, and those decisions will have the potential for setting policy.

Questions will be referred to the board by Facebook users who disagree with a decision, as well as by Facebook itself. The board will be supported by a full-time staff, which will be responsible for executing its content decisions.

Facebook proposes the new review board be made up of roughly 40 experts with experience in the areas of content, privacy, human rights, journalism, civil rights and public safety. Along with compensating them, Facebook intends to handpick the initial board members, who would then be responsible for selecting future members. Members would serve for three-year terms. 

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