Culture

Facebook will have more power over its oversight board than it's implied

After an avalanche of global criticism, Zuckerberg's company is trying to save face.

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For a while now, Facebook has been strongly criticized for its handling of exploitative and at times downright horrific content on its platform. To mitigate this frequent international outcry, the company has proposed regulations for Facebook's supposedly independent oversight board, according to Reuters.

The board will have a former human rights group director as its leader at the administration level. At this moment, that reported figure is Thomas Hughes who used to work for the human rights group Article 19. But while the company insists that the board will be independent, a closer review of its proposed bylaws for the group shows that Facebook still has the lion's share of power.

Power in theory, not practice — While Facebook has stated that the board will have the power to overrule Mark Zuckerberg, its proposed bylaw under Article 2's Section 1.2.1 shows that the group will have limited say in what Facebook content it can actually review and takedown.

You're funded (for now) — In late 2019, Facebook vowed that it would give the board $130 million to cover expenditures over the course of six years. Under another section in its proposed bylaws, however, it's unclear whether this funding will continue after the designated duration is over.

How appeals will work — Based on how urgent the case is, the board will have the ability to examine and assess different content cases. Once a Facebook user has gone through the appeals process, the board will have 90 days to evaluate the case and reach a decision. But if the case is filed under "urgent real-world consequences," the board will have to reach a decision within 30 days.

All of this comes after an avalanche of criticism against Facebook over its handling of hate speech, ad targeting during the 2016 American presidential election, data breaches, and other controversies. The company may be proud that it introduced an independent board but it's unmistakably obvious that Facebook is still very much in control.