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29 Jan 2020

Ranking Digital Rights

Ranking Digital Rights finds Facebook Oversight Board bylaws reflect improved remedy but do not sufficiently center human rights

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Facebook released the highly anticipated bylaws for its Oversight Board, the soon-to-launch independent body that will allow users to appeal the company’s content moderation decisions before independent panels of policy experts... We at RDR think this experiment in internet governance shows real progress toward new models of content moderation that protect and promote human rights. The bylaws reflect improved remedy with binding results, establish commitments to disclose data, and implement some of the recommendations of a third-party human rights review commissioned by Facebook... But there is significant room for improvement. First and foremost, human rights norms could play a much larger role in both the bylaws and the Charter... We recognize the progress from the draft Charter, which makes no reference to human rights norms, to the final Charter and bylaws, where the Board’s decision-making process includes assessing the impact of content removal on the right to free expression. But this neither covers the full spectrum of human rights... The bylaws also fail to adequately acknowledge the role of algorithms in promoting and amplifying problematic speech.

... In December, Facebook also announced the creation of an independent trust tasked with supporting the regular operations of the Oversight Board, and shared an independent human rights review of the emerging body. RDR welcomes both announcements... [T]he risk of bias remains, as Facebook alone is responsible for selecting and appointing the trustees as well as the initial officers of the Oversight Board. [RDR's full response is available here.]