Facebook Oversight Board starts hearing content moderation appeal cases

Facebook has announced the start of its independent Oversight Board on content moderation decisions.

Facebook users can now appeal content-moderation decisions directly with its independent oversight board.

The social media giant said users could go through this system once they had “exhausted the company’s appeal process”.

The Board has the ability to overrule Facebook’s verdict on matters and can also be referred to by the social network itself on significant and difficult cases.

“Today we’re announcing an important milestone in the progress of the Oversight Board,” the independent body said. “From today, if your content is removed from Facebook or Instagram and you have exhausted the company’s appeal process, you can challenge this decision by appealing to the Oversight Board.

“Similarly, Facebook can now refer cases for a decision about whether content should remain up or come down. In the coming months you will also be able to appeal to the Board about content you want Facebook to remove.

“All decisions on cases taken by the Oversight Board will be binding on the company.”

The Board says it expects to decide on each case, and for Facebook to have acted on their decision, “within a maximum of 90 days”.

Facebook confirmed the members of the inaugural Oversight Board in May this year. Alan Rusbridger, former editor-in-chief of the Guardian, is among the 20 board members, alongside former Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt; Catalina Botero Marino, a former special rapporteur for freedom of expression at the InterAmerican Commission on Human Rights; Columbia Law School academic Jamal Greene, and Stanford Law School academic Michael McConnell.

However, it became clear by September that the delay in getting the Board up and running would mean that it would launch too late to oversee issues arising from the contentious US election and attendant aggressive political campaigning.