A year and a half after announcing its creation, Facebook has named the initial 20 members of its oversight board, a quasi-independent panel that is to make decisions on thorny issues.
The board’s members were named by Facebook and hail from a broad swath of regions around the world. They include Tawakkol Karman, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate from Yemen, Alan Rusbridger, the former editor-in-chief of British newspaper The Guardian, and Helle Thorning-Schmidt, the former prime minister of Denmark.
- MEET THE BOARD: Who they are and where they are from
“The four Co-Chairs and 16 other Members announced today are drawn from around the world. They speak over 27 languages and represent 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,” Facebook explained in a blog.
The oversight panel is intended to rule on difficult content issues, such as whether Facebook or Instagram posts constitute hate speech. It will be empowered to make binding rulings on whether posts or ads violate the company’s standards. Any other findings it makes will be considered “guidance” by Facebook.
“The Board will review whether content is consistent with Facebook and Instagram’s policies and values, as well as a commitment to upholding freedom of expression within the framework of international norms of human rights. We will make decisions based on these principles, and the impact on users and society, without regard to Facebook’s economic, political or reputational interests. Facebook must implement our decisions, unless implementation could violate the law,” Facebook explained.
Critics call the oversight board a bid by Facebook to forestall regulation or even an eventual breakup.