Facebook oversight board urged to demand real power
FORMER Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger and others on Facebook’s new oversight board are under pressure after campaigners called for its US members to request more power from the social network or quit in protest.
The board is in danger of becoming a “toothless” body that provides cover for Facebook’s misdeeds unless action is taken, activists at Accountable Tech warned in an open letter.
In what will be seen as a challenge to all members, they called for the five US experts on the board to stand down unless it is given more freedom to tackle Facebook’s problems.
The oversight board will function as a Supreme Court-style group, reviewing moderation decisions made by Facebook and potentially ordering decisions to be reserved. The group will also be able to suggest changes to Facebook’s policies.
However, activists argue that all real power remains with Mark Zuckerberg, the company’s founder, and the board will have little impact.
Facebook has come under fire for a string of scandals, from allowing hostile powers to interfere in elections to permitting far-Right hate speech. Mr Rusbridger said last week that he did not know enough about the differing cultures of Twitter and Facebook to explain why they took different decisions on moderating Donald Trump’s posts.
Signed by Accountable Tech and eight other groups, including Climate Power 2020 and the League of Conservation Voters, the letter demands stronger powers be given to Oversight Board members.
It says: “We humbly ask that you refuse to be complicit in this Facebook charade – that you demand sweeping and immediate changes, or walk away.”
The oversight board announced this month that it will not start reviewing Facebook’s decisions until late autumn.
Accountable Tech announced last month that it would spend $25,000 (£19,700) on Facebook adverts targeting the US-based members of the board.
Nicole Gill, the group’s executive director, said at the time: “It’s unacceptable for the board to be sidelined and escape scrutiny.”
Alan Rusbridger, the former Guardian editor, is among the members of the new oversight board at tech giant Facebook