‘Giving people the power to make their voice heard creates progress’

Mark Zuckerberg/Photo: Facebook

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in May 6 posted a status in his verified facebook account on establishing an independent Oversight Board to ensure the principle of giving people voice while thoughtfully managing the difficult tradeoffs that come with it.

For the last two years, we’ve worked on establishing an independent Oversight Board to ensure that we always live up to the principle of giving people voice while thoughtfully managing the difficult tradeoffs that come with it. The Oversight Board is an external body that members of our community can appeal to on some of the most significant and challenging content decisions we face.

Today, the Oversight Board announced its first 20 members — a major milestone in establishing independent oversight and accountability for content decisions. These 20 members include former judges, a former Prime Minister, non-profit leaders, academics and journalists. They come from all over the world and will bring diverse perspectives to these important decisions.

I’ve always believed that giving people the power to make their voice heard creates progress. But the same tools that allow people to connect and express important ideas can also be used to spread dangerous content as well. Today we are seeing some of these tensions play out during the Covid-19 emergency. We’ve developed policies, like our Community Standards, to articulate what we do and do not allow on our services. The tradeoffs between supporting free expression and preventing harm make it difficult to have a one-size-fits-all approach to handling these questions. I don’t think private companies like Facebook should be making so many decisions about speech on our own.

That’s why, in 2018, I outlined the idea for an independent Oversight Board. Since then, we’ve consulted with thousands of academics, NGOs and other experts around the world. We’ve released a charter that outlines our commitment to grounding the board in a set of values — authenticity, safety, privacy, dignity and above all, freedom of expression — guided by international human rights standards. The result is an independent body — made up of people with a diverse set of backgrounds and professional experiences that will advocate for our community and make binding decisions about the content on our platforms.

The Oversight Board will have the power to overturn decisions we’ve made on content as long as they comply with local laws. Its decisions will be final — regardless of whether I or anyone else at the company agrees with them. Facebook won’t have the power to remove any members from the board. This makes the Oversight Board the first of its kind.

When the board begins its work, it will mark another important step for our company as we establish stronger governance to better serve our community. In the past few years, we’ve made massive investments and changed our priorities, policies and systems in areas related to privacy, safety and democracy. This period has been difficult, but these changes have made us better equipped to deal with some of the challenges the current pandemic has presented us with — from the scale of misinformation efforts to the way we have worked with governments and health authorities to get accurate information to billions of people. But this journey is far from over and we will keep working to become a better company every day.

The Oversight Board will help us protect our community by ensuring that important decisions about content and enforcement are thoughtful, protect free expression, and won’t be made by us alone. I know that people will disagree about what should and shouldn’t come down. But I’m confident that the Oversight Board will make these decisions thoughtfully and fairly. I look forward to watching them begin their work.

You can see the initial set of board members and their bios on the Oversight Board’s website: https://www.oversightboard.com/…/announcing-the-first-memb…/


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