Facebook to launch independent oversight board to review content decisions
Social media giant Facebook is launching an independent oversight board to ensure that it deals correctly with some of the more questionable content that gets posted on its platform. The move is a deft strategy to help it navigate a world where critics on the one hand say it should be taking more down; and critics on the other say it should be leaving more up. At the heart of this debate lie our changing social norms, as well as an age-old argument about freedom of speech balanced against freedom from harm. What is unusual about Facebook’s position is that the company is having to make the hard calls on its own – in previous ages, these would have been matters for intellectuals and politicians to mull over.
Facebook’s share price has appreciated by 44% year to date
Source: Yahoo Finance
Facebook’s unprecedented dilemma is a direct result of the global dominance it has attained as a means of communication. But an independent oversight board could offer it a canny solution to that problem: essentially, to devolve responsibility for these decisions (which Facebook, as well as many observers, claim should not belong to any single company) to a body that is better suited to deal with them.
Billed as a kind of “supreme court” to determine free speech matters for Facebook’s 2.4 billion users, the committee was the brainchild of author and Harvard law professor Noah Feldman. The central challenges in its creation are two-fold: first, that the board really can remain independent; and second, that it can move quick enough to deal with its task. These, however, are challenges for further down the line: at present, the board is just an idea. No one knows how many members it will have (Facebook has suggested 40 “part-time” members, but experts have claimed they’ll need more), who they will be, how much content they will review, or anything else.
Dominion holds Facebook in its Global Trends Ecommerce Fund.
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