Facebook Oversight Board says it won’t get started until late fall

Facebook Oversight Board member Alan Rusbridger

Photo: Leon Neal | AFP | Getty Images

The new Facebook Oversight Board — designed to keep Facebook posts in check — announced it won’t be operational until later this year.

The independent board, which is more necessary than ever in some people’s eyes, will have the power to override Facebook decisions on contentious material. It will review videos, photos and other content.

“We understand many people are eager for the board to officially begin our task of providing independent oversight of Facebook’s content decisions,” the board said via Twitter. “We share this urgency, but the board won’t be operational until late Fall.”

In May, the board said it would start reviewing cases “in the coming months.”

The Facebook Oversight Board admitted in a separate tweet late Tuesday that it is focused on the “critical steps required to stand up a new institution” before going on to say that many of the “issues of concern today” are within its scope.

Facebook announced plans in November 2018 to create the independent board, just after The New York Times detailed how the company avoided and deflected blame in the public conversation around its handling of Russian interference in the U.S. election and other social network misuses.

The board could help Facebook avoid accusations of bias as it removes content deemed problematic. Some lawmakers and conservative speakers have said that Facebook censors politically conservative points of view, a claim the company rejects.

Members of the oversight board include Alan Rusbridger, former editor-in-chief of The Guardian newspaper, and Andras Sajo, a former judge and VP of the European Court of Human Rights.

Ad boycott

Businesses have been pulling their advertising from Facebook and Instagram in recent weeks as part of the #StopHateforProfit campaign, which argues that Facebook isn’t doing enough to remove divisive, racist and hateful content. Verizon, Patagonia, Ford, Adidas, HP, Coca-Cola, Unilever and Starbucks are just some of the companies that have joined the campaign and pulled their advertising from Facebook.

On June 4, the number one post on Facebook was reportedly a video claiming that George Floyd, an unarmed Black man who was killed by police, was a “horrible human being” and that “racially motivated police brutality is a myth.” The video received 24 million views in 19 hours.

Former Obama administration aide Ben Rhodes said on Twitter in early June: “Facebook profits off of an algorithm that mainlines hate. The worse it gets for us, the better it is for them. Their business model is the destruction of social cohesion.”

Correction: This story was revised to note than Ben Rhodes served under President Barack Obama.

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