Facebook’s Oversight Board has announced that users can now submit appeals related to the removal of content to them for an independent review. With 40 people from around the world appointed to it by Facebook back in May, the Board aims to serve as a kind of Supreme Court for the social media population.
The Board’s members will make final and binding decisions on what content Facebook or Instagram should allow or remove, with respect for freedom of expression and human rights being the main criteria for moderation.
“Our focus has been on building an institution that is not just about reacting to a single movement or chasing a specific news cycle, but about protecting human rights and free expression over the long term,” administrative director Thomas Hughes said on Thursday.
Including a former prime minister, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, and the Guardian editor responsible for overseeing the publication of the infamous Snowden leaks, the 40-man board boasts an impressive repertoire. Each board member will serve a three-year term, and Facebook will not interfere in any of the board’s decision-making. The company even poured $130 million into an irrevocable trust to fund the Board’s operations.
For the time being, the Board will only cater to appeals concerning content that was removed by Facebook. Individual users can bring appeals to the board, and Facebook as a company will be able to refer cases for expedited review if they could have urgent, real-world consequences. The board has sole discretion about whether to accept or reject cases referred by Facebook.
To qualify for a Board review, a user will first have to appeal the initial content decision made by Facebook or Instagram and must have received a final decision from the platform. The person filing the appeal must have an active account on the platform where the content was posted, and will have to submit an appeal to the Board within 15 days of the platform’s final decision. The board will make its decision within 90 days of accepting a case for review.