Facebook Oversight Board Will Launch by Mid-October, More Than a Year After It Was First Announced

The internal group will begin reviewing cases of removed content by late October, with the Nov. 3 election around the corner

Facebook’s board of 20 international content moderators, called the Facebook oversight board, will begin reviewing cases before the Nov. 3 presidential election, but just barely.

The oversight board will launch in “mid to late October,” a Facebook spokesperson told TheWrap, and will serve as a sort of court to review and appeal certain decisions about what content to allow on the social network and its subsidiary Instagram.

The $130 million effort was first announced last September as a way for Facebook to further determine how exactly it decides what content stays on its sites and what is too problematic to allow — and to give users the chance to appeal certain bans.

Its 20 members were appointed in May. The board announcement also served a dual purpose for Facebook and its chief executive and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg to deflect criticism that the network did too little to mitigate the spread of false and misleading political information during past election cycles.

The Facebook spokesperson said the company took a while to implement the board in part because it was working on a technical infrastructure.

“We have been helping to get them up and running as quickly as possible,” the Facebook spokesperson said. “That has included finalizing a new software tool that allows members to securely access and review case information from anywhere in the world; and training them on our Community Standards and policy development processes. We look forward to the board beginning to hear cases in mid to late October.”

At this point in time, it’s most certain that the majority of cases the oversight board can review will be examined after the results of the 2020 election are decided. Facebook wouldn’t comment on why it will commence the committee so close to the election date.

Some critics say the oversight board will be unable to do what its original mission statement promised — to keep Facebook “grounded in human rights principles, including the rights to freedom of expression, privacy and remedy” — and formed their own counter task force with an organization called the Real Facebook Oversight Board.

The group includes reporter Carole Cadwalladr, who covered Facebook’s role in the 2016 election. Cadwalladr told NBC News this morning the group was created to oversee Facebook’s role in public democratic process.

“This is an emergency response,” Cadwalladr said. “We know there are going to be a series of incidents leading up to the election and beyond in which Facebook is crucial.”

The first meeting of the Real Facebook Oversight Board group is Oct. 1, and will include numerous notable names in technology, including New York Times technology reporter Kara Swisher and Harvard professor Shoshana Zuboff.

Zuboff described Facebook in a statement as “a roiling cauldron of lies, violence and danger destabilizing elections and democratic governance around the world.”


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