Facebook's 'supreme court' members announced

BBC Technology 06 May 2020 06:00
By Jane Wakefield Technology reporter
Mark Zuckerberg speakingImage copyright NurPhoto

Facebook has announced who will sit on an independent board, set up to have ultimate say over what controversial content should be taken down.

Former Danish prime minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt will co-chair the panel with three others.

The panel said they will judge some of the "hardest cases out there."

One expert said it was a bold experiment, but others were more cynical about how much difference they would make.

In a blog announcing the oversight board, Facebook said it "represented a new model of content moderation".

Initially consisting of 20 members, there are plans to expand numbers to 40. It will begin hearing cases later this year.

At first this will just be deliberating on content that individuals feel has been wrongfully removed but, in following months, it will also look at appeals from users who want Facebook to remove content.

Panellists will also review content referred to it directly by Facebook, and will be able to make policy recommendations based on its decisions.

"The cases we choose to hear may be contentious, and we will not please everyone with our decisions. Facebook and Instagram users come from all corners of the world, and the social or cultural context in which content is posted matters. We expect passionate discussion among members," the panel said.

But he added that the board would not be "the internet police" able to sweep in and make quick decisions.

Members are a mix of journalists, judges, digital rights activists and former government advisers from around the globe, including:

Dr Bernie Hogan, from the Oxford Internet Institute, was not convinced that its members would wield any real power.

Mark Stephens, partner at law firm Howard Kennedy, was more optimistic.

"Many will be cynical but this is the wrong response, due to the calibre of the board, the remarkably broad and deep scope of oversight and finally the board's complete independence."

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