Facebook has laid out plans for an independent board it says will consider appeals over the social network’s content removal decisions.
In a draft charter, the social media giant said its user base of more than two billion people means that, in the interests of fairness and transparency, it alone should no longer have the final say on whether or not content is removed from the site.
The site, along with wider social media, has been repeatedly criticised for its handling of content removal on the platform and a lack of transparency around its decision-making.
The draft charter proposes the board be used to handle appeals and requests from Facebook users as well as specific cases referred by Facebook “that are especially difficult to resolve”, including those which have sparked public debate.
It suggests the creation of a body of around 40 “global experts”, with the first members chosen by Facebook from a public list of criteria, on initial three-year terms before future appointments are made by the board itself.
Members of the body will be made public, as will its decision-making process, the charter proposes.
Former deputy prime minister and Facebook’s new vice president of global affairs and communications Sir Nick Clegg said the platform would now spend six months taking feedback on its proposal for the board’s structure.
“As we build out the board, we want to make sure it is able to render independent judgment, is transparent and respects privacy,” he said, adding that many key decisions have not yet been finalised.
“After initial consultation and deliberation, we’ve proposed a basic scope and structure that’s outlined in this draft charter. We’ve also identified key decisions that still need to be made, like the number of members, length of terms and how cases are selected.”
The charter suggests the board should not include any “current or former employees or contingent workers of Facebook or government officials” and will offer a standardised compensation for board members’ time.
It says board members cannot take incentives or be lobbied into favouring any case before them and that “impartiality is paramount” to its operation.
In a speech in Brussels on Monday, Sir Nick said the board would be “a way for people to appeal against content decisions to an independent entity sitting outside of the company”.
He also used the speech to defend the company’s use of a data and advertising-driven business model, but urged Silicon Valley and politicians to come together to help regulate the technology sector.
Last year, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said he had “increasingly come to believe that Facebook should not make so many important decisions about free expression and safety on our own”.
On the prospect of creating a content oversight board, he said: “I believe independence is important for a few reasons. First, it will prevent the concentration of too much decision-making within our teams.
“Second, it will create accountability and oversight.
“Third, it will provide assurance that these decisions are made in the best interests of our community and not for commercial reasons.”