Facebook has unveiled its plan to create an independent “oversight” board to make decisions over how the network is moderated.

The firm insisted the panel, which will hear its first “cases” in 2020, will have power to override decisions it makes over contentious material and influence new policy.

The idea, dubbed the Facebook supreme court, will eventually comprise 40 people around the world but will be smaller at first.

Experts have questioned the board’s independence, as well as the motivation behind the move.

“Facebook does not have a court,” said Bernie Hogan, senior research fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute. “The only vote that really counts is the majority shareholder, Mark Zuckerberg.”

He added: “Facebook’s ‘supreme court’ invokes all the pomp and circumstance of actual judicial practice without any of the responsibility to citizens.”

The board will launch with no fewer than 11 part-time members, Facebook said, and the names of those appointed will be made public – as will the results of their deliberations. The board will be paid via a trust set up and funded by Facebook upfront.

“We are responsible for enforcing our policies every day and we make millions of content decisions every week,” wrote Facebook’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg. “But ultimately I don’t believe private companies like ours should be making so many important decisions about speech on our own.”

Leave a Reply