As Mark Zuckerberg put it when he first outlined his blueprint for a new system for content governance and enforcement, “Facebook should not make so many important decisions about free expression and safety on our own.” With our size comes a great deal of responsibility and while we have always taken advice from experts on how to best keep our platforms safe, until now, we have made the final decisions about what should be allowed on our platforms and what should be removed. And these decisions often are not easy to make – most judgments do not have obvious, or uncontroversial, outcomes and yet many of them have significant implications for free expression.
That’s why we have created and empowered a new group to exercise independent judgment over some of the most difficult and significant content decisions. In doing so, we’ve sought input from both critics and supporters of Facebook, hosting a global consultation process of workshops and roundtables with more than 650 people in 88 different countries, that resulted in:
- Release of a final charter, which establishes of the board’s structure, scope and authority;
- Creation of the Oversight Board Trust to safeguard the board’s ability to make independent decisions and recommendations;
- Publication of the board’s bylaws, which outline its operational procedures;
- Hiring of the board’s director, who will lead the board’s administration and staff; and
- Creation of a recommendations portal, through which the board can accept nominations and applications from anyone interested in serving as a member.
Oversight Board Members
The members announced today reflect a wide range of views and experiences. They have lived in over 27 countries, speak at least 29 languages and are all committed to the mission of the Oversight Board. We expect them to make some decisions that we, at Facebook, will not always agree with – but that’s the point: they are truly autonomous in their exercise of independent judgment. We also expect that the board’s membership itself will face criticism. But its long-term success depends on it having members who bring different perspectives and expertise to bear.
The Selection Process
Facebook helped kick off the member selection process by choosing four co-chairs, who have since been working with us to select the additional 16 members announced today. Membership selection will continue in this way until the board has selected up to 40 members, at which point it alone will take responsibility for selection of members in future. The recommendation portal remains open for additional suggestions.
The members contract directly with the Oversight Board, are not Facebook employees, and cannot be removed by Facebook.
For our part, Facebook will implement the board’s decisions unless doing so could violate the law, and will respond constructively and in good faith to policy guidance put forth by the board.
The board won’t be able to hear every case we or the public might want it to hear, but we look forward to working with the board to ensure that its scope grows over time. As it does, we know the board will play an increasingly important role in setting precedent and direction for content policy at Facebook. And in the long term, we hope its impact extends well beyond Facebook, and serves as a springboard for similar approaches to content governance in the online sphere.
As always, we remain hugely grateful to everyone who has lent their time, energy, and expertise to this first-of-its-kind project.