Facebook pledges US$130 mln to content oversight board

December 13, 2019 09:30
Facebook is taking steps in response to criticism over how it handles problematic content and transparency around its decision-making. Photo: Reuters

Facebook said on Thursday that it has committed an initial US$130 million to fund an independent oversight board that will handle tasks in relation to content decisions.

The board will be able to make final decisions on whether individual pieces of content - such as a sensitive video or ad - should be displayed on the site, Reuters reports.

The board is one of Facebook’s high-profile efforts to respond to criticism over how it handles problematic content and transparency around its decision-making.

However, the board’s creation is behind schedule, the company confirmed in a blog post. Facebook will probably not name the board’s co-chairs and first members until after January 2020.

Brent Harris, Facebook’s head of governance and global affairs, said the delays were due to both the unforeseen complexities of creating a trust to ensure the board’s independence and to the task of reducing more than 1,000 nominees to no more than about 40.

"This is not a ‘move fast and break things’ project,” Harris told Reuters by telephone, referring to the social media network’s early motto.

He said the recommended members had come through Facebook’s global consultation process in 88 countries, as well as the company’s public online portal, which opened in September.

They range from “former heads of state to Nobel Prize winners to people who moderate groups on Facebook to local judges,” Harris said.

Facebook plans to announce the board’s co-chairs, likely to number three, he said, and a first set of about 20 members after January.

Both Facebook and its users can submit cases to the board. While the board cannot make policy, Facebook will be required to respond publicly to any recommendations.

The social media giant said the US$130 million should cover operational costs for at least six years.

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