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10 Sep 2020

Maina Kiai, in The Standard (Kenya)

Facebook's oversight board member on the body's mandate in safeguarding human rights incl. freedom of expression

" We’re the public eye at Facebook, says top human rights lawyer"

In May, social networking giant Facebook released the names of the first 20 members of its Oversight Board, a new autonomous body that will determine cases on content moderation on the firm’s platform. Among the 20 individuals is Maina Kiai (pictured), the only East African picked so far. Financial Standard spoke to...[him] on his new role. 

The idea of an oversight body that is independent of Facebook is encouraging given the laissez-faire approach corporates have taken in the last 15-20 years on issues of social justice...We’ll step in when cases are referred to us and believe those cases are significant and warrant our attention...The first stage is to report the case to Facebook, which will take it through its internal systems and make a ruling and if you are not satisfied with the ruling, you can appeal to the Oversight Board. There are millions of posts made on Facebook and Instagram on a single day, and there is no way we can audit them all...

If we have a consensus that the freedom of expression is important and that we can have a platform that gives people a voice to debate political or personal issues that are controversial without descending into incitement or hate speech, that is fine. This is how societies grow and develop. I don’t have to agree with a viewpoint for me to acknowledge it as valid. Our personal grievances thus are irrelevant.