Facebook's Supreme Court Is In Place… And Everyone Hates It, Because Facebook Makes Everyone Hate Everything

from the wait-and-see dept

Facebook seems to really dislike it when people refer to its Oversight Board as the Facebook Supreme Court, but it’s just too good a name not to use. The company announced plans a while back to create this Oversight Board to review a narrow slice of its moderation decisions. As I discussed two years ago when such an idea was floated, people all over the place freaked out mainly because they hate Facebook so anything associated with Facebook must automatically be deemed bad and evil.

But, in reality, I still believe that we should view this as an interesting experiment in actually letting go of some moderation powers. That is not to say that Facebook will necessarily do a good job, but I’m perplexed by the people who seem so angry about this board because they hate Facebook, when the whole setup is that this is Facebook removing some amount of autonomy over its own moderation decisions. For people who were already angry at Facebook’s content moderation decision making, you’d think they’d support moving those decisions at least a quarter-step away from Facebook’s own control.

Last week, Facebook finally announced the original Oversight Board members and the board itself put out its own announcement combined with a NY Times op-ed from the four “co-chairs” of the board: Catalnia Botero-Marino, Michael Mcconnell, Jamal Greene, and Helle Thorning-Schmidt.

There are legitimate reasons to criticize and worry about the board — as we discussed in a podcast last year — there remain concerns about how much power the board will actually have, and how independent it will really be. Facebook has tried to alleviate those concerns by the structure of the Oversight Board, in which Facebook did commit to funding the trust that will pay for the oversight board, so Facebook can’t magically yank the funding. And while Facebook did pick those four co-chairs mentioned above, the chairs then picked all the remaining members by themselves. And, as the chairs themselves noted, some of them have been quite critical of Facebook’s decision-making in the past. Facebook has no ability to remove any board member.

A more reasonable criticism of the board is that it’s very limited in scope and power. It will only review a very narrow set of moderation concerns. The board chairs note that they will try to choose more consequential cases to review:

We will not be able to offer a ruling on every one of the many thousands of cases that we expect to be shared with us each year. We will focus on identifying cases that have a real-world impact, are important for public discourse and raise questions about current Facebook policies. Cases that examine the line between satire and hate speech, the spread of graphic content after tragic events, and whether manipulated content posted by public figures should be treated differently from other content are just some of those that may come before the board.

There also remain questions about how “binding” these decisions will be on Facebook, and what Facebook will do when its management truly disagrees with a Board decision.

And it’s certainly easy to go through the composition of the board and find individuals who you disagree with on their views, but, to some extent, it wouldn’t be a very good board if anyone agreed with everyone on the board. Personally, I’ll note that of the members of the board who I know (or whose work I’m familiar with), they all are very thoughtful and principled people who have spent a long time thinking through various issues regarding free speech and content moderation (side note: Jamal Greene, who is one of the co-chairs, edited my Protocols, Not Platforms paper for the Knight 1st Amendment Institute).

On the whole, while I agree that it’s unlikely that the board will have that much real world impact, I do think that it’s a worthwhile experiment in taking a different approach to some aspects of content moderation, and that it’s doing so in a manner that actually takes some power away from Facebook itself, even if the amount of that power is very, very small.

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Companies: facebook, facebook oversight board

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Comments on “Facebook's Supreme Court Is In Place… And Everyone Hates It, Because Facebook Makes Everyone Hate Everything”

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Samuel Abram (profile) says:


The problem with moderation at scale, as Mike Masnick repeatedly points out, is that those who call for more moderation tend to yell the loudest when they get their own selves in the nosehairs and say "No, I meant you to moderate them, not me, stupid!" when they really should’ve been careful what they actually wished for…

Koby (profile) says:

No Confidence

And it’s certainly easy to go through the composition of the board and find individuals who you disagree with on their views, but, to some extent, it wouldn’t be a very good board if anyone agreed with everyone on the board.

But it probably wouldn’t be a very good board if you go through the composition of the board and couldn’t find ANYONE you agreed with.

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

Coyne Tibbets (profile) says:

Regulatory capture

I am just not seeing the independence here — or the value.

Imagine that this was AT&T, and they picked four members of the FCC, and then those members picked the other members. We don’t have to guess how that turns out, that’s what we have now. We call it regulatory capture: theoretically independent — the FCC members certainly claim independence — in practice, slavish lap dogs.

Expect this board to uphold FB decisions 99.75% of the time, of the 0.000005% of FB decisions it actually reviews.

…and not even binding?

As useful as screen doors on a submarine.

Bartonkno (user link) says:

asian dating rules

Indian Army seeks oriental counterpart’s help

newer Delhi:The Indian Army has sought the assistance of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) To locate the missing youth from Arunachal Pradesh on their side and return him as per arranged protocol, Informed Defence sources on thursday night (january 20). The sources further said that the Indian Army immediately contacted through a well accredited mechanism informing that an individual, Who was assembling herbs and hunting, Has lost his way and cannot be found.

"with regards to the incident of the missing youth named Miram Taron from Arunachal Pradesh, It is informed that on receipt of the info, The Indian Army immediately contacted the PLA through a well accredited mechanism of hotline informing that an individual, Who was gathering up herbs and hunting, Has lost his way and cannot be found. assistance from PLA has been sought to locate the individual on their side and return him as per established protocol, Said Defence resources for the article.

beginning, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had slammed the Central government for not reacting to the alleged abduction of Indian youth by China’s People’s freedom Army (PLA) And said that the silence is a statement of the Centre as they cannot care. His statement came after a 17 year old Miram Taron has been abducted by China’s PLA from Arunachal Pradeshs Zido area, Upper Siang location, Lungta Jor general vicinity.

Taking to bebo, The congress leader wrote in Hindi, "A few days before going to Republic Day, A fortune teller of India is kidnapped by China We are with the family of Miram Taroun and will not give up hope, seriously isn’t give up. talking to ANI, Ering claimed that a 17 year old Miram Taron has been abducted by China’s PLA from Arunachal Pradesh’s Zido area, Upper Siang section, Lungta Jor position.

"This is a very major problem which once again has arisen in Arunachal Pradesh. We now know that 17 year old Miram Taron has been abducted by China’s PLA from Arunachal Pradesh’s Zido area, Upper Siang district, Lungta Jor aspect. It is depressing that Chinese are intruding into Indian territory, Claims the our elected representatives MLA.

"I had also spoken with SP Yingkiong who had accredited (The collision), He included,China’s People’s freedom Army (PLA) Force entered using the Bising area. beforehand, The Chinese had also entered NEFA in 1962 within this Kepangla pass. several years back they built a road inside our territory but was repelled by our people. The incident happened near Bising, He excessive.

He better known as for the safe return of the Indian youth Miram Taron. according to Ering, The 17 year old youth from Arunachal Pradesh was abducted by the Chinese army on Tuesday. He urged the Central government to discover the Chinese intrusion of Indian lands. His Twitter post told me that Taron was abducted at around 6:30 pm near Siungla from the jungle called [url=https://www.bestbrides.net/how-to-tell-if-a-woman-likes-you-based-on-her-zodiac-sign/%5Dhow to know if a libra woman likes you[/url] Lungta Jor under Indian region by the PLA. Taron went hunting with his friend Johnny Yaying in the last border village of Bising under Tuting, He explained to. never the less, 27 year old Yaying escaped the Chinese army and he shared the abduction episode.

Tapir Gao, member of Parliament from East Arunachal Pradesh, Had also claimed if the youth was ‘abducted’ on Tuesday from Arunachal Pradesh’s Upper Siang district. He claimed that Chinas People’s liberation Army (PLA) Has abducted the youth that the Tsangpo River enters India in Arunachal Pradesh.

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