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7 May 2020

David Kaye, Just Security

Commentary: Facebook's Oversight Board deserves time to succeed & raises questions incl. what impact it may have industry-wide

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"The Republic of Facebook: With the naming of oversight board members, what kind of institution will this become?" 6 May 2020

... Do social media companies have the power of governance?... How did we get here, to this place where companies so dominate public speech, causing so much friction with governments and the public, and yet, as Chinmayi Arun describes so well, they must create their own mechanisms of self-regulation?... Why should private companies be making, and then overseeing, the decisions that have such impact on public life?

... Among the key questions will be just how far the board is willing to go in taking decisions that undermine the company’s business interests, just how broad a scope it believes it has, just how independent from Facebook it is.... The Oversight Board deserves time to succeed... [but] will not have jurisdiction over the legal demands imposed by governments... And as laudable as Facebook’s effort is, it only solves Facebook’s problems of legitimacy. That is, it could help legitimize Facebook decisions but cannot legitimize content-moderation choices by all platforms... Over time, an industry-wide process would build trust in content moderation and push them all toward transparency and respect for the public impact they have. It may even be that the Facebook Oversight Board could expand to take on that kind of industry-wide role... Governments are chomping at the bit of regulation, seeking to impose content rules that the platforms must follow. Will self-regulation, even with tools like the Oversight Board, block that momentum? Will the Oversight Board spur the company and others to greater transparency, to enable genuine democratic oversight and control?