More than a year after its unveiling, Facebook’s Oversight Board is finally taking shape.
The tech titan just named 20 of the board’s members, which include academics, journalists, nonprofit leaders and former judges.
“They come from all over the world and will bring diverse perspectives to these important decisions,” Mark Zuckerberg said on Wednesday.
First announced in late 2018, the board’s mission will be to “ensure that we always live up to the principle of giving people voice while thoughtfully managing the difficult trade-offs that come with it,” Facebook’s cofounder-CEO said.
In more practical terms, the board will serve as an external body that people can rely on to appeal decisions made by Facebook’s moderators, like blocking a Page or a post.
In theory, the board should make it easier for Facebook to balance free expression and the welfare of individuals and society as a whole.
“I don’t think private companies like Facebook should be making so many decisions about speech on its own,” Zuckerberg said on Wednesday.
Not being given free rein, board members will be expected to comply with local laws.
Some of the board’s more prominent figures include Helle Thorning-Schmidt, former Prime Minister of Denmark, and former CEO of Save the Children; Alan Rusbridger, former editor-in-chief of The Guardian; and Nighat Dad, founder-executive director of the Digital Rights Foundation.
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 distinct characteristics.
The primary function of the board will be to review decisions 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 originally proposed the board be made up of roughly 40 experts with experience in the areas of content, privacy, human rights, journalism, civil rights and public safety.
Members are expected to serve for three-year terms, then select their successors.