Facebook unveils details of its content-oversight board

IN NOVEMBER 1999 the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which oversees the web’s address book, held its inaugural annual gathering. Two decades later the online world faces another constitutional moment, this time courtesy of a company which has profited from the internet’s stupendous growth—and is blamed for many of its ills, from privacy abuses to the spread of disinformation. On January 28th Facebook unveiled a draft of the bylaws of what it calls an “oversight board”: an independent group of experts charged with the power to review—and overturn—decisions by the firm’s army of content moderators. The world’s largest social-media conglomerate hopes to have the body up and running in a few months.

Some hope the entity will evolve into an online ombudsman—perhaps even a “supreme court” for other big Western internet platforms—to oversee not just content moderation, but data-gathering and algorithm design. Others view it as no more than Facebook’s figleaf: an attempt to forestall real regulation and palm off responsibility for controversial posts. What should users, regulators and investors make of it?

The board certainly looks like a serious effort at institution-building—something “no firm has ever done before”, in the words of Kate Klonick of St John’s University School of Law in New York,...

via Business Feeds

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