Facebook has announced the first 20 members of its independent, external Oversight Board: Here is the complete list

The board, which is expected to start hearing cases this summer, is planned to grow to about 40 members.


Facebook on Wednesday named the first members of its independent oversight board, which will be able to overturn the company's decisions on individual pieces of content and recommend policy changes.

What will the Oversight Board review?

The board, which some have dubbed Facebook's "Supreme Court," will rule on whether some individual pieces of content should be displayed on the site. It can also recommend changes to Facebook's content policy, based on a case decision or at the company's request.

 Facebook has announced the first 20 members of its independent, external Oversight Board: Here is the complete list

Facebook has said the board's remit will in future include ads, groups, pages, profiles and events, but has not given a time frame. Image: Reuters

At first, the board will review posts, videos, photos and comments that the company has decided to remove from Facebook or its photo-sharing site Instagram, but eventually it will handle cases where content was left up.

This could be content involving issues such as nudity, violence or hate speech. Facebook has said the board's remit will in future include ads, groups, pages, profiles and events, but has not given a time frame.

It will not deal with Instagram direct messages, Facebook's messaging platforms WhatsApp, Messenger, its dating service or its Oculus virtual reality products.

Facebook expects the board will initially take on only "dozens" of cases, a small percentage of the thousands it expects will eventually be brought to the board. In 2019, users appealed more than 10 million pieces of content that Facebook removed or took action on.

But Facebook's head of global affairs, Nick Clegg, told Reuters he thought the cases chosen would have a wider relevance to patterns of content disputes.

How will the board work?

The board will decide which cases it reviews, which can be referred either by a user who has exhausted Facebook's normal appeals process or by Facebook itself for cases that might be "significant and difficult."

Users who disagree with Facebook's final decision on their content will have 15 days to submit a case to the board through the board's website.

Each case will be reviewed by a panel of five members, with at least one from the same geographic region as the case originated. The panel can ask for subject matter experts to help make its decision, which then must be finalized by the whole board.

The board's case decision - which is binding unless it could violate the law - must be made and implemented within 90 days, though Facebook can ask for a 30-day expedited review for exceptional cases, including those with "urgent real-world consequences."
Users will be notified of the board's ruling on their case and the board will publicly publish the decision.

When the board gives policy recommendations, Facebook will give public updates and publish a response on the guidance and follow-on action within 30 days.

For more details on the board's operations, see Facebook's proposed bylaws.

Facebook announced a group of 20 members, including four co-chairs who helped select the others. The board, which is expected to start hearing cases this summer, is planned to grow to about 40 members.

Here is a list of the oversight board's first members:

Co-chairs

Cataline Botero-Marino

Botero-Marino is a Colombian attorney who was the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States from 2008 to 2014. She is now Dean of the Universidad de los Andes Faculty of Law.

Jamal Greene

Greene is a Columbia Law professor whose scholarship focuses on constitutional rights adjudication and the structure of legal and constitutional argument. He was a law clerk to Judge Guido Calabresi on the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals and for Justice John Paul Stevens on the US Supreme Court.

Micheal McConnell

McConnell, now a constitutional law professor at Stanford Law, was US federal circuit judge. Appointed by Republican President George W. Bush, he was viewed as a possible US Supreme Court nominee. He is an expert on religious freedom and a Supreme Court advocate who has represented clients in First Amendment cases.

Helle Thorning-Schmidt

Thorning-Schmidt was the first woman prime minister of Denmark. The Social Democrat, who led a coalition government from 2011-2015, then served as the chief executive officer of humanitarian charity Save the Children International.

Other members

Afia Asantewaa Asare-Kyei

A dual Ghanaian and South African citizen, Asare-Kyei is a human rights advocate who works on women’s rights, media freedom, and access to information issues across Africa at the Open Society Initiative for West Africa.

Evelyn Aswad

Aswad, now a University of Oklahoma College of Law professor, formerly served as a senior U.S. State Department lawyer. She specializes in the application of international human rights standards to content moderation issues.

Endy Bayuni

Bayuni is an Indonesian journalist who twice served as the editor-in-chief of the Jakarta Post and is involved with several media advocacy organisations across the region.

Katherine Chen

A former national communications regulator in Taiwan, Chen is currently a professor in public relations and statistics at Taiwan's National Chengchi University. Her research focuses on social media, mobile news, and privacy.

Nighat Dad

Dad is a Pakistani lawyer and internet activist who runs the Digital Rights Foundation, a nonprofit organization focused on cyber harassment, data protection and free speech online in Pakistan and South Asia.

Pamela Karlan

Karlan is a Stanford law professor and US Supreme Court advocate who has represented clients in voting rights, LGBTQ+ rights, and First Amendment cases. She testified during President Donald Trump's impeachment hearings. Karlan worked in the Justice Department's civil rights division during the Obama administration.

Tawakkol Karman

The Yemeni human rights activist and journalist became the first Arab woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize in 2011 in recognition of her non-violent push for change during the Arab Spring.

Maina Kiai

Kiai is a Kenyan lawyer and human rights activist who is director of Human Rights Watch's Global Alliances and Partnerships Program and who served as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association from 2011 to 2017.

Sudhir Krishnaswamy

Krishnawamy, the Vice-Chancellor of the National Law School of India University, is an expert on India's constitutional law and a civil society activist.

Ronaldo Lemos

Lemos is a Brazilian academic and lawyer who co-created a national internet rights law in Brazil and co-founded a nonprofit focused on technology and policy issues. He teaches law at the Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro.

Julie Owono

Owono is a lawyer and the executive director of Internet Sans Frontieres, a digital rights organization based in France. She campaigns against internet censorship in Africa and around the world.

Emi Palmor

Palmor is a former director general of the Israeli Ministry of Justice, who led initiatives to address racial discrimination and advance access to justice via digital services and platforms.

Alan Rusbridger

Rusbridger is a British journalist who was the editor-in-chief of the Guardian newspaper. He is now the principal of Lady Margaret Hall, a college of Oxford University.

Andras Sajo

A Hungarian legal academic and former judge at the European Court of Human Rights, Sajo is an expert in comparative constitutionalism and was involved in the drafting of the Ukrainian, Georgian and South African constitutions.

John Samples

Samples is a vice president at the Cato Institute, a US libertarian think tank. He advocates against restrictions on online expression and writes on social media and speech regulation.

Nicolas Suzor

Suzor is an associate law professor at Queensland University of Technology in Australia who studies the governance of social networks and the regulation of automated systems.

With inputs from Reuters


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