Facebook selected the first 20 members of its independent content oversight board on Wednesday. This board will be making binding decisions on what content Facebook and Instagram should allow or remove. This is expected to ensure good governance and accountability across Facebook’s services and platforms.

The four Co-Chairs and 16 members of the board speak at least 29 languages and represent various diverse professional, cultural, political, and religious backgrounds and viewpoints. “Over time we expect to grow the Board to around 40 members. While we cannot claim to represent everyone, we are confident that our global composition will underpin, strengthen, and guide our decision-making,” said Brent Harris, Facebook’s Director of Governance and Global Affairs.

Facebook has established a $130 million trust for the Oversight Board. This trust funds all operations and cannot be revoked. “Facebook must implement the Board’s decisions unless implementation could violate the law,” Harris added. All Board members are independent of Facebook and all other social media companies. “Members contract directly with the Oversight Board, are not Facebook employees, and cannot be removed by Facebook.” the company informed.

How the Facebook Board will function

Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg first spoke about his vision for what content governance should look like for the company. The Oversight Board will review content enforcement decisions and determine whether they are consistent with Facebook and Instagram’s content policies and values, as well as a commitment to upholding freedom of expression within the framework of international norms of human rights. All decisions will be made public, and Facebook must respond publicly to them.

Every content decision made by Facebook impacts people and communities. All of them deserve to understand the rules that govern what they are sharing, how these rules are applied, and how they can appeal to those decisions. The Oversight Board represents a new model of content moderation for Facebook and Instagram and will review content referred to it by both users and Facebook.

“When we begin hearing cases later this year, users will be able to appeal to the Board in cases where Facebook has removed their content, but over the following months we will add the opportunity to review appeals from users who want Facebook to remove content,” said the company.

Users who do not agree with the result of a content appeal to Facebook can refer their case to the Board by following guidelines that will accompany the response from Facebook. At this stage, the Board will inform the user if their case will be reviewed. Further, the Board may also review content referred to it by Facebook. This could include many significant types of decisions, including content on Facebook or Instagram, on advertising, or Groups. Moreover, the Board will also be able to make policy recommendations to Facebook based on our case decisions, said Facebook.

(With inputs from IANS)

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