Facebook wants to use ‘other companies’ on the Oversight Board

Facebook created the Oversight Board to help resolve the most difficult content moderation judgments. Even if the body has always been referred to as “Facebook’s Supreme Court,” Facebook executives have suggested that some of their peers could also benefit from the board’s services.

Such a move would have obvious benefits for Facebook, which could claim their self -regulation experiment was successfully chosen by their competitors to participate. But for now, competing platforms have little incentive (and as little interest) to do so.

The Oversight Board and ‘other companies’

In a 2019 letter outlining “Facebook’s commitment to the Oversight Board,” Mark Zuckerberg indicated that the board’s purview could go beyond Facebook alone. “We expect the board to only hear small cases at first, but in the future we hope to expand its scope and possibly include many companies across the industry,” he said. .

The comment received little attention at the time, but the idea resurfaced. Speaking of a Financial Period The move follows the board’s decision on Donald Trump’s suspension, Facebook’s VP of Global Affairs Nick Clegg also raised hopes of an industry Oversight Board. “Who knows, maybe in the future it could be a germ of an idea that has been taken away by regulation or it could be something that can be run by more companies than just Facebook,” he said. “I want to imagine [that] in five years time or more the Oversight Board has been able to operate in the same way that many other social media companies face the same problems as us. ”

When asked about what Clegg said, Twitter and YouTube declined to comment. Reddit did not respond to a request for comment.

Currently, the Oversight Board chart does not mention companies other than Facebook. And no other social media company has publicly expressed any interest in offloading its own ordering decisions within it. But it’s not just Facebook executives who want to increase the board’s purity. At least one Oversight Board official has raised the idea as a possibility. Speaking at SXSW, public policy manager Rachel Wolbers said the organization didn’t like the moniker Facebook Board of Management. “That’s really because we hope we can do a very good job that other companies might want our help with,” he said.

It is unclear how this instruction will still work. The board is entirely funded by Facebook, which is also heavily involved in making rules and selecting its members. Getting other companies involved could actually be vying for Facebook, as it would make the board more legitimate, and give the company ammunition against critics. It will also help the Oversight Board be more independent, as it will be the “Supreme Court” for all social media, not just Facebook.

But there are some obvious benefits for competing platforms, which as such may not want to participate in Facebook’s self-regulation test. “I think the big platforms will continue to watch their companies around the world about implementation decisions, but we’re a long way from YouTube and Twitter that promise to follow the Facebook Oversight Board,” Nu said. Wexler, a policy communications consultant and former spokesperson for Facebook, Google and Twitter. “They all have different laws and they want their autonomy.”

There are more practical limitations, too. Not only does the board need to know the nuances of each company’s policies, it may need to create a separate framework for each platform, as well as systems to manage user appeals and public comments from of each. More board members and support staff may be needed as well. (The board now has 20 members with plans to grow to 40 just to cover Facebook appeals.)

A spokesman for the Oversight Board said any plans are in the distant future. “The Oversight Board was created to test a model for online governance that could serve other services in the long run, but our only focus right now is Facebook and Instagram,” said the board’s head of communications. and Dex Hunter-Torricke. “Content moderation is a huge challenge for many platforms, and the Oversight Board believes that fewer critical decisions need to be made by companies alone. I hope the insights come from on the Board over the next few years could help other companies think about their ways to deal with the problem online. “

However, there is at least some precedent for such an idea. Industries have long created their own regulatory bodies to set rules and ethics. In the gaming industry, the Entertainment Software Rating Board, or ESRB, was created in the early 90’s and made the game-rating system widely used today around the world. The group “One of the nation’s best examples of self-restraint in the industry.” There are similar bodies for the recording, television and film industries.

With the advent of social media platforms, companies have come together in the past on specific issues, such as the issue related to terrorism. Facebook and Twitter and YouTube have worked together for many years through the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terror (GIFCT), which was created to prevent counter terrorists from social media. Similarly, social media companies share research on election interference, disinformation campaigns and platform manipulation.

But bringing other Oversight Board experiment platforms to Facebook could be a different matter. For one, just the existence of the blackboard is still controversial. While some praised the efforts of this effort to force Facebook to follow , there are still real questions as to what influence it has. Most critics say it would go a little further than a way for Facebook to avoid taking responsibility for its decisions and fix the most pressing problems.

“I doubt the Oversight Board will go to the place where they can really provide credible approach recommendations for other platforms,” said Jessica Gonzalez, co-CEO of the Free Press Institute and member of the “True Facebook Oversight Board , “Says Engadget.” I don’t think this body is a decision -making component for the whole field. “

For Gonzalez, the issue went beyond Facebook criticisms. While the board recruits “bright people,” he says they are not representative of the communities most affected by the social media platform’s policies. Not a ton of grassroots sightings were made there. There has to be some diversity, there has to be socio-economic diversity. And we really need to hear from the communities what the impact of these decisions will be. “

Another issue raised by critics is that the Facebook -created “Oversight Board” is not a substitute for the actual .

“Facebook and other social media platforms with similar business models will find ways to highlight divisive content to drive advertising revenue,” New Jersey Congressman Frank Pallone wrote in following the Oversight Board’s decision on Trump’s suspension. “Every day, Facebook magnifies and promotes disinformation and misinformation, and the structure and laws that govern its governing board often seem to ignore the obstructive reality. It is clear that real accountability will only come. in legislative action. ”

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