News

October 17, 2019

Facebook’s Oversight Board is Not Enough

JOSH EDELSON / AFP

Facebook published recently the Charter of its upcoming Oversight Board. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) welcomes Facebook’s attempt to bring more transparency and accountability to content moderation but regrets that the board won’t have a clear influence on Facebook’s information reliability mechanisms.


Facebook’s Oversight Board will be composed of a board of 11 to 40 members that will select cases submitted by Facebook or users and will give binding content moderation decisions. Additionally, Facebook may request policy guidance from the board and the board may issue policy recommendations. RSF regrets that the board’s guidance won’t have a clear impact on the algorithmic mechanisms  put in place by Facebook to moderate, filtrate and curate content on its platform.

At RSF, we have seen numerous examples of journalistic content getting removed by Facebook’s algorithms. Whether through filtering algorithms that remove 66% of the content before it even appears on the platform, or through the use of abusive reporting in the sole aim of getting journalistic content censored by Facebook algorithms. With 2 millions posts flagged every day and 20,000 content appeals reviewed by humans each day, the Oversight Board won’t have the capacity to address every case. Therefore, it is crucial for Facebook to commit to enhance its algorithmic mechanisms following the guidance of the Board.

Facebook recently updated the values underlying its community standards to feature more prominently users’ ‘voices’ and promote the company’s commitment to freedom of expression and people’s ability to share different views. Freedom of expression alone is not enough to guarantee a democratic debate. Indeed, the integrity of the democratic process is violated when manipulated information influence users. Every user should have the ability to seek, receive and access reliable information. As such, RSF encourages Facebook to not only commit to freedom of speech but also commit to ensure a free, independent, reliable and pluralistic information.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF), through its International Initiative on Information & Democracy has been paving the way for a new international framework for democratic governance of the global information space. The multi-stakeholder framework promotes independence and compliance with universal standards, and would help present yet more validity and support for the board in tackling the global information and communication space.