When the board began last year, only Facebook HQ could ask it to review something. Giving users the option to ask the board to address a complaint is a significant expansion of its power and role within the massive business.
The Oversight Board is Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s answer to growing criticism over how his company handles the spread of information across its platform. Zuckerberg has long been reluctant to play an active role in policing what’s posted, and by agreeing to honor whatever decision the Oversight Board makes, he hopes to escape further pressure to do so.
The board contains 20 social media experts from across the worldwide, many of them academics and think tank wonks. It has purview over such items as posts, photos, videos and comments on both Facebook and Instagram. Importantly, it’s not required to review every complaint—much like how the U.S. Supreme Court chooses its cases.
While the board is a meaningful step in curbing misinformation, the fledging agency has made only a handful of decisions so far, making it hard to assess whether it is a sufficient enough solution to Facebook’s problem. It’s currently going through its biggest test yet: reviewing whether Facebook’s ban of President Trump should stand.
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The Oversight Board’s creation is part of a bigger recent shift at Facebook to offer some additional tools to tamp down toxic content. But more often than not, these features put the onus on people outside Facebook headquarters to take up the fight. These have included new moderating tools for those managing groups on Facebook and giving users the ability to change how their News Feeds are displayed.