Facebook to strengthen online safety with content oversight board

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Facebook is planning to set up an Oversight Board which will be authorised to review some of its most challenging and contentious content decisions.

According to Ime Archibong, Facebook’s Vice President of Product Partnerships, in putting the body together, Facebook will be getting wide input from local experts, including academics, NGOs and civil society from across the world on how this independent body could work.

He explains that as part of Facebook’s information gathering and consultation process, it will be hosting a workshop in Nairobi over the coming few weeks, with participants from across the Continent.

“We are incredibly excited about deeply engaging with this group on the hard questions related to content on our platforms. We recognise that this is a complex process that will strengthen how we exercise our responsibility to users.

“To be clear, we are not asking a group of experts to make decisions for us. We are, however, asking for their insights to help inform our thinking and hold us accountable. We’ll still be making hard decisions every day, and we accept the full weight of that responsibility,” Archibong said.

He explained that as currently envisioned, the Board will consist of about 40 global experts with experience in content, privacy, free expression, human rights, journalism and safety.

“Where we need to, we will supplement member expertise through consultation with geographic and cultural experts to help ensure decisions are fully informed.

“The board will exercise independent judgement when reviewing our most difficult and disputed content decisions and hold us publicly accountable if we don’t get them right. This should in time bring more perspective, accountability and transparency to our content decisions. The board will have the power to overrule or uphold Facebook’s content decisions and will be able to recommend changes or additions to policies,” he added.

He said that through workshops the platform is listening to its partners and incorporating a diverse range of perspectives from across Africa into the board’s design process.

“The success and the ultimate effectiveness of the Oversight Board will depend on its ability to accommodate an inclusive and diverse range of perspectives, across language, culture and experience.

“Above all, it’s important we achieve a diversity of backgrounds and perspectives to reflect our truly global community. While we can’t include representatives from every country and culture, Africa will be represented on the board alongside other regions, and we continue to explore ways to improve, he further stat

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