The Country of Facebook Prepares For A Supreme Court

June 27th, 2019 7:43 PM

Facebook, a country with a population of 2.38 billion, is building a “Supreme Court” to oversee them. 

The social media platform released a report in a June 27 blog post that detailed the results of its workshops and roundtables to construct an Oversight Board. The purpose of the board is to determine what about Facebook’s Community Standards is fair and transparent, and what isn’t. In its essence, it is a “Supreme Court” for content review. 

However, this concept might be a little too bulky and ambitious to succeed. The Daily Beast wrote that “Trust in Facebook is so shaky that audiences don’t even trust it to pick the people who pick its new oversight body.” Ouch.

The board would consist of at least 40 members to go through rulings on content that was either flagged or removed from the platform. It would discuss harassment, hate speech, violent rhetoric, and safety and privacy violations. The report collected ideas from 2,000 people from 88 countries. 

In the report, Facebook wrote “Every day, Facebook tries to strike the right balance between safeguarding free speech and protecting people’s safety, between what is and what is not acceptable on our platforms across many continents and countries.” The goal here is not solely focused on freedom of speech, but neither is it focused on censorship. 

However, one thing from the report and the media’s coverage of it was clear: no one wanted Facebook involved in constructing this board or choosing its members. 

In a conversation released with the report, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the board would be allowed to take a certain number of appeals every year. The limit is still being debated, but so far it appears that the amount of cases allowed to make it to the board would be low. 

Facebook has struggled with its current system of dealing with content. The platform lets some key violations of its Community Standards slip through, yet cracks down harshly on others.