It can be regarded as a significant success that a small nation such as Hungary has a member in Facebook’s new, so-called Oversight Board, out of a total of 20. The institution is independent of the company, many of its members even criticised it, and its task will be to make Facebook more transparent. Moreover, the company must implement all their decisions in 7 days, so there is no chance to appeal.
According to Index, users will be able to turn to the Oversight Board of the company if they think that something they saw should be deleted, but the company did not do so, or if their post should not have been deleted. Of course, the company itself can also bring such issues to the newly-created board. The reason why Mark Zuckerberg and his team decided to give green light to such a council was the numerous criticism the company recently received about misleading, abusive, offensive, and fraudulent posts or fake profiles that they were not able to delete in time.
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Even though the company does a lot to erase illegal contents, there is still a lot left, all the while, for example, famous paintings were deleted because they showed naked people. Index thinks that since even authorities put pressure on them,
they had to act quickly as long as they still had some room for manoeuvre.
The Oversight Board will be independent of the company, and the implementation of its decisions will be mandatory for the company. Thus, they will have a significant effect on any future content moderation decisions. Interestingly, Zuckerberg talked about the plan to create such a board in November 2018 for the first time, so it took a very long time to create it. Brent Harris, Facebook’s director for governance and global affairs, said that their decision is unique in history.
Facebook promised that the board would make their decisions regardless of their effect on the company, only basing it on the interest of society and the users. Facebook provided 130 million dollars for the board, which is placed in a fund, and
they cannot take it back.
The list of the members will be public, and all their decisions will be accessible on the Internet. Today, the board only has 20 members, but that will increase to 40 soon enough.
The European Union has sent only two members to the board as of yet. Besides the former Danish PM, András Sajó, a jurist and member of the Hungarian Academy of Science, was selected. Between 2008 and 2017, he was a member of the European Court of Human Rights and served as the vice president of the institution from 2015 on. He also worked for former Hungarian President Árpád Göncz as a legal advisor and received the Prima Primissima Award in 2006.
He told Index that he does not know how he became a board member or who nominated him, but
he took part in the selection process made up of four rounds.
He is entrusted with the task for 3 years. For now, the board members have met only via a video call. He said that his role was to stand up against groundless censorship. He added that he would resign the moment he cannot work independently. Since he is the only member from the Central European region, he will be a permanent member of the regional councils as he understands the cultural context better.