A leading member of Facebook’s Oversight Board says the panel will begin taking content appeals cases within weeks, as critics worry about the social media giant’s potential impact on the US election less than two months away.
Jamal Greene, a co-chair of the Oversight Board, told CNN Business in an interview this week that “sometime next month, in mid-to-late October, we’ll be able to announce the board is ready to start hearing cases.”
While Greene declined to offer a specific prediction of how many cases the Oversight Board will receive at launch, he said the organization’s initial goal is to hear roughly 100 cases a year.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg first pitched the Oversight Board in 2018 as a kind of social media Supreme Court that can make independent, binding decisions that may overrule Facebook’s content removal decisions. If a user feels treated unfairly by Facebook, he or she can appeal a case to the Oversight Board, which consists of independent experts in human rights and freedom of expression.
But the effort to build and launch the Oversight Board has been painstaking and slow, missing several self-imposed deadlines. As the clock ticks down to the US election, President Donald Trump has signaled he may contest the results of the race and has sought to delegitimize mail-in voting, without evidence.
Those and other claims have led Facebook to beef up its election-related content policies. Earlier this month, Facebook said it would apply contextual labels to posts by candidates or campaigns that attempt to declare victory before official election results become available. The company will rely on results reported by Reuters as well as a coalition of other news organizations known as the National Elections Pool. Separately, Facebook will also apply contextual labels to posts that seek to delegitimize the results. Facebook spokesman Andy Stone tweeted on Wednesday that the company will be “rejecting political ads that claim victory before the results of the 2020 election have been declared.”
Greene acknowledged in the interview that by taking cases beginning in October, the Facebook Oversight Board could find itself receiving complaints about the US election, including posts that Facebook removes or takes action against because they may violate its rules on voter suppression or election integrity.
“It’s conceivable they may send us cases involving election-related issues,” Greene said. “If we get a case, we’ll try to resolve the case as best we can.”