Facebook: New oversight board is not sufficient to safeguard freedom of expression online

Digital 2 min read
ARTICLE 19
Facebook: New oversight board is not sufficient to safeguard freedom of expression online - Digital

ARTICLE 19 has responded to Facebook’s plans for an Independent Oversight Board to oversee content decisions. The announcement comes a week after Facebook said it would also look to international human rights standards to make decisions about content.

Executive Director Thomas Hughes said:

With billions of users around the world, Facebook wields immense power over the news, information and opinions that we see online. While there are often calls for platforms like Facebook to remove more content, and more quickly, there is also an issue with content being incorrectly removed. So it’s vital that its decisions about removing content are transparent and accountable if freedom of expression is to be protected.

Facebook’s independent board is a notable improvement on the current system, but we would like to see this accompanied by changes to its internal procedures for removing content before cases get referred to the Independent Oversight Board. All Facebook users need to be notified if their content is removed or their accounts closed with a clear explanation of why they have breached Facebook’s Community Standards.  

While the Facebook Independent Oversight Board is intended to be a global institution, the understanding of the complexities of local contexts and social, political, historical, cultural and linguistic dimensions is key to making informed decisions on content moderation. Therefore ARTICLE 19 has suggested that national independent bodies, which could work with bodies set up by companies, could bring detailed insights and knowledge about local contexts to the conversation on how to moderate content.” 

ARTICLE 19 has proposed that the moderation of online content should be overseen by Social Media Councils (SMCs), which would be independent, transparent and accountable bodies. The SMC would bring together the tech industry, media, academics, human rights experts and civil society organisations that represent the public, particularly vulnerable and marginalised groups.  Read more information about Social Media Councils.

Contact

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Notes to Editor

ARTICLE 19 is a freedom of expression organisation that campaigns for a world where all people everywhere can freely express themselves and actively engage in public life without fear of discrimination.