Oversight Board (Facebook)

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The Oversight Board is a body that makes content moderation decisions on the social media platform Facebook. Shortly after a meeting with Harvard Law School professor Noah Feldman who had proposed the creation of a quasi-judiciary on Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg approved the creation of the board in November 2018.[1] The first members of the board were announced on May 6, 2020.

Facebook said the board's members have lived in 27 countries and speak at least 29 languages, though a quarter of the group and two of the four co-chairs are from the United States, where the company is headquartered. The co-chairs, who selected the other members jointly with Facebook, are former U.S. federal circuit judge and religious freedom expert Michael McConnell, constitutional law expert Jamal Greene, Colombian attorney Catalina Botero-Marino and former Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt. Among the initial cohort are: former European Court of Human Rights judge András Sajó, Internet Sans Frontières Executive Director Julie Owono, Yemeni activist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Tawakkol Karman, former editor-in-chief of The Guardian Alan Rusbridger, and Pakistani digital rights advocate Nighat Dad.[2]

It officially began its work on October 22, 2020.[3]


In November 2018, Facebook proposed creating a content oversight board that would make content moderation decisions on the platform.[4] Among the goals for this board include improving the fairness of the appeals process, give oversight and accountability from an outside source, and improve transparency.[4]

Zuckerberg initially described the Oversight Board as a "Supreme Court", given its role in settlement, negotiation, and mediation proceedings.[5] The Oversight Board has the ability to overrule content moderation decisions by intermediaries by applying Facebook's policies and considering the public interest.[6] The Oversight Board is modeled after the United States' federal judicial system, as the Oversight Board gives precedential value to previous board decisions.[6]

In January 2019, Facebook received a draft charter for the board[7] and began a period of public consultations and workshops with experts, institutions, and people around the world.[8][9] In June 2019, Facebook released a 250-page report summarizing the findings from the period of public consultation, and announced that they are in the process of looking for people to serve on the 40-person board.[10][11]

In July 2020 it was announced that the board would not start work until "later in the year".[12]

It started hearing cases on October 22, 2020.[3]

First decisionsEdit

On January 28, 2021, the board overturned four moderation decisions made by Facebook.[13] Facebook's deplatforming of Donald Trump was not in the initial decisions; the board was at the time collecting public comment prior to a future decision.[14][15]


The 20 members of the Oversight Board were announced on May 6, 2020.[16]

Name Country Term Details
Catalina Botero Marino, co-chair Colombia 2020– Dean of Law Faculty at Universidad de los Andes
Jamal Greene, co-chair United States of America 2020– Professor at Columbia Law
Michael McConnell, co-chair United States of America 2020– Constitutional law professor at Stanford Law
Helle Thorning-Schmidt, co-chair Denmark 2020– Former prime minister of Denmark
Afia Asantewaa Asare-Kyei Ghana; South Africa 2020– Human rights lawyer
Evelyn Aswad United States of America 2020– Law professor at University of Oklahoma College of Law
Endy Bayuni Indonesia 2020– Journalist
Katherine Chen Taiwan 2020– Public relations and statistics professor at National Chengchi University
Nighat Dad Pakistan 2020– Lawyer and internet activist
Pamela S. Karlan United States of America 2020–2021 Stanford Law professor and US Supreme Court advocate
Tawakkol Karman Yemen 2020– Journalist and human rights activist
Maina Kiai Kenya 2020– Lawyer and human rights activist
Sudhir Krishnaswamy India 2020– Vice-Chancellor of National Law School of India University
Ronaldo Lemos Brazil 2020– Lawyer and academic
Julie Owono Cameroon; France 2020– Lawyer and executive director of Internet Sans Frontieres
Emi Palmor Israel 2020– Former director general of Israeli Justice Ministry
Alan Rusbridger United Kingdom 2020– Journalist
András Sajó Hungary 2020– Law academic
John Samples United States of America 2020– Vice president of Cato Institute
Nicolas Suzor Australia 2020– Associate law professor at Queensland University of Technology

Previous DecisionsEdit

Date of Decision Case Decision Countries Topics Original Decision Board's Decision
January 28, 2021 Case Report 2020-001-FB-UA Malaysia Hate Speech, Politics, Violence, Religion Remove Unavailability
January 28, 2021 Case Decision 2020-002-FB-UA Myanmar, France, China Hate Speech, Politics, Religion, Violence Remove Overturn
January 28, 2021 Case Decision 2020-003-FB-UA Armenia, Azerbaijan Hate Speech, Culture, Discrimination, Religion Remove Uphold
January 28, 2021 Case Decision 2020-004-IG-UA Brazil Adult Nudity and Sexual Activity, Health, Safety Remove Overturn
January 28, 2021 Case Decision 2020-005-FB-UA United States Dangerous Individuals and Organizations, Politics Remove Overturn
January 28, 2021 Case Decision 2020-006-FB-FBR France Violence and Incitement, Health, Misinformation, Safety Remove Overturn

"Real Facebook Oversight Board"Edit

In response, a "Real Facebook Oversight Board" that is not sponsored by Facebook was created which claimed to have better oversight over Facebook. Facebook criticized this group and said it was undermining its efforts. Among its 25 members announced on September 25, 2020, are: Shoshana Zuboff, author of "The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power"; Maria Ressa, a co-founder of the Filipino independent news site Rappler; Rashad Robinson, president of the civil rights nonprofit Color of Change; Derrick Johnson, president of the NAACP; Reed Galen, a co-founder of the conservative anti-Trump super PAC The Lincoln Project; Ruha Benjamin, an associate professor of African American studies at Princeton University; Marietje Schaake, a Dutch politician who is international policy director at Stanford University's Cyber Policy Center; Toomas Hendrik Ilves, the former president of Estonia; Safiya Noble, an associate professor of information studies and African American studies at UCLA; Damian Collins, a member of the British Parliament; tech investor Roger McNamee, a frequent Facebook critic; ex-CIA officer Yael Eisenstat, former head of election integrity operations for political ads at Facebook;[17] Digital Sistas founder Shireen Mitchell;[18] National Director and CEO of the Anti-Defamation League Jonathan Greenblatt;[19] children's advocate Jim Steyer; author and historian Timothy D. Snyder; and Carl M. Loeb University Professor at the Harvard Law School Laurence Tribe.[20]


  1. ^ Klonick, Kate. "Inside the Making of Facebook's Supreme Court". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2021-02-12.
  2. ^ "Facebook names first members of oversight board that can overrule Zuckerberg". Reuters. 7 May 2020. Retrieved 8 May 2020.
  3. ^ a b https://www.cnn.com/2020/10/22/tech/facebook-oversight-board/index.html
  4. ^ a b "A Blueprint for Content Governance and Enforcement | Facebook". www.facebook.com. Retrieved 2019-08-09.
  5. ^ Douek, Evelyn (2019). "Facebook's 'Oversight Board:' Move Fast with Stable Infrastructure and Humility". N.C. J. L. & TECH. 21 (1). SSRN 3365358.
  6. ^ a b Van Loo, Rory (2020). "Federal Rules of Platform Procedure". SSRN 3576562. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  7. ^ "Charting a Course for an Oversight Board for Content Decisions | Facebook Newsroom". Retrieved 2019-08-09.
  8. ^ "Getting Input on an Oversight Board | Facebook Newsroom". Retrieved 2019-08-09.
  9. ^ "Facebook asks for public input about its plans for a content oversight board". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2019-08-09.
  10. ^ "Global Feedback and Input on the Facebook Oversight Board for Content Decisions | Facebook Newsroom". Retrieved 2019-08-09.
  11. ^ "Facebook Releases an Update on Its Oversight Board: Many Questions, Few Answers". Lawfare. 2019-06-27. Retrieved 2019-08-09.
  12. ^ "Facebook Oversight Board says it won't get started until late fall". CNBC. 2020-07-08. Retrieved 2020-07-09.
  13. ^ "Facebook review board in first action overturns four content-removal rulings". AFP. January 28, 2021 – via Bangkok Post.
  14. ^ Carrie Mihalcik and Queenie Wong (January 29, 2021), Facebook oversight board overturns 4 of 5 items in its first decisions. Next up for the board: Weighing in on Facebook's decision to indefinitely suspend the accounts of former President Donald Trump., CNETCS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  15. ^ Taylor Hatmaker (January 21, 2021). "Facebook's Oversight Board will review the decision to suspend Trump". TechCrunch.
  16. ^ "Announcing the First Members of the Oversight Board". Oversight Board. Oversight Board. Retrieved 3 June 2020.
  17. ^ https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news/facebook-real-oversight-board-n1240958
  18. ^ https://www.computerweekly.com/news/252490104/Facebook-critics-launch-Real-Facebook-Oversight-Board
  19. ^ https://techcrunch.com/2020/09/30/the-real-facebook-oversight-board-launches-to-counter-facebooks-oversight-board/
  20. ^ https://the-citizens.com/real-facebook-oversight/about-us/

External linksEdit