This week, almost exactly 18 months
after Mark Zuckerberg outlined his vision for content governance, the world found out who would sit on Facebook’s much-hyped Oversight Board
These 20 people
— attorneys, journalists, politicians, digital rights experts, authors and others — have committed to a three-year term (with a maximum of three terms) and will now set to work making binding decisions on what content Facebook and Instagram should allow or remove. They are, in a sense, the world’s highest-profile moderators.
It’s too early to say whether the Board will be successful (or what success even looks like). The test will be when the first appeal is reviewed and we start to get answers to big questions — namely, does the Charter hold up to scrutiny? Does the process end satisfactorily? Is 90 days too much or too little time to make a decision? And will Facebook respect the Board’s decisions? (They are not bound to in some cases).
The coverage has, as expected, been extensive, generated in part by a well-honed PR strategy that has leveraged the profile of Board members as well as reaction and response from tech and free speech commentators and activists. Here’s a selection:
- The four Board co-chairs wrote an op-ed for the New York Times emphasising its independence and transparency.
- Alan Rusbridger, the former editor of The Guardian, says ‘there are no excuses for not trying’ to make the Oversight Board work in a piece for OneZero.
- Nic Suzor, a law professor at QUT, stresses in this thread that the Board is ‘an experiment and a work in progress’.
- John Samples told Politico’s Morning Tech that any kind of interference could be ‘a real repetitional problem for Facebook’.
- Endy Bayuni, a senior editor at Jakarta Post, writes about his appointment in the paper he helps to edit.
- A broad read in Wired on what the Board does, who’s on it and what its limitations are.
The NYT’s Kara Swisher says the Board has ‘all the hallmarks of the United Nations, except potentially much less effective’.
The New York Post, meanwhile, called it ‘a recipe for left-wing censorship’ while Daily Dot rounded up a bunch of irate Republican tweeters claiming it wasn’t politically representative.
- Siva Vaidhyanathan, a media professor that wrote a book on Facebook, called the board ‘greenwashing’ in this Guardian piece.
- David Kaye, whose job title at the UN I always wish was shorter, writes about what the makeup of the 20 member-Board could mean for the future of Facebook.
- Ranking Rights director Rebecca MacKinnon’s thread suggests the new body ‘may do more to boost Mark Zuckerberg’s power than constrain it’.