Facebook has named Maina Kiai, Kenyan human rights advocate as a board member for the newly created oversight board for Facebook and Instagram.
Mr Kiai is a director of Human Rights Watch’s Global Alliances and Partnerships program. He, together with other, will decide what content to allow or remove from the largest social media platform.
The oversight board has been created to tackle some of the increasingly complex and contentious debates regarding the content shared on Facebook and Instagram. Of priority will be cases of content that have potential to impact many users and are of critical importance to the public and raise ambiguity over Facebook’s policies.
The decisions arrived at by the board must be implemented by Facebook, so long as they are within the law. Oversight members are independent of the social media giant, funded by an independent trust, and cannot be removed by Facebook based on the decisions they make.
“We have been talking for a long time about creating some kind of independent governance structure for making big companies more accountable on some of the most important decisions they make,” said Kiai. “State regulation is important, and I think we need to make progress there too, but I think the board is an exciting experiment and I’m excited to be part of it.” He added.
The board consists of 19 other members, who collectively, have lived in more than 27 countries and speak more than 29 languages among them.
The board intends to grow to about 40 members eventually and though they cannot represent everybody at the moment, their global composition will provide great insight into their decision making. The board was designed with transparency at the core.
All decisions will be public and Facebook also has to respond publicly. Board decisions will be published on its website while protecting the privacy and identity of the involved parties. The board will also issue a public report annually on its work in order to evaluate how it is fulfilling its intended purpose and if members believe that Facebook is living up to the commitments made.
The members are independent from Facebook and their contract is directly with the Oversight board. They are not employed by Facebook and cannot be removed by Facebook. They will serve for a maximum of three years and their case panels will remain confidential and assigned randomly.
Members cannot choose what panel to sit on and all opinions will be anonymous. The Board’s financial independence has been guaranteed by an establishment of a $130 million trust fund that is independent from Facebook. This trust will fund its operations and cannot be revoked.
The board will start hearing and reviewing cases in the coming months. Users will be able t appeal in cases where there content has been removed and review appeals from users who would like Facebook to remove content such as advertising.
Although the board will not be able to make decisions on every individual cases, they will prioritize those that could impact a huge section of the public.