Facebook has announced the initial members of its Oversight Board, the controversial initiative in corporate governance and self-regulation. What exactly is it?
Evelyn Douek, a specialist in online speech and content moderation who has closely studied the board’s 18-month-long launch process, offers a scrupulous summary. “Characterizing the FOB is tricky. It is court-like in that it will hear appeals from and act as a check on Facebook’s policy-formation and enforcement processes and provide public reasons for its decisions. But it will also give policy recommendations, and neither its members nor those who appear before it will be lawyers applying the law. It is a private institution fully of Facebook’s own creation, but it has reasonably robust mechanisms to ensure independence from Facebook, which has put $130 million into a trust intended to fund the FOB for at least two three-year terms. It is a global body, but it would be naïve to think that it will be able to settle global speech norms when different jurisdictions have clashed about these for many decades.”
But in “What kind of oversight board have you given us?,” Douek identifies what she calls “open questions” that hang over the fate of the board, including jurisdiction, the nature of political content, the process of selection, the scope of impact of the board’s decisions, the issue of standards and the complication of “values.”
That these questions are still open suggests that a larger issue remains yet-to-be-answered: Should we trust the Oversight Board?
One of Indonesia’s most distinguished journalists, Endy Bayuni has served two terms as editor in chief of the Jakarta Post. He joins the conversation with the eminent sociologist Nicole Curato, who works on deliberative democracy and global governance at the University of Canberra, and the human rights lawyer Jen Domino, who advises the International Commission of Jurists in Yangon, Myanmar. Journalist John Nery is a convenor of the Consortium on Democracy and Disinformation.
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