The query of whether or not former President Donald Trump must be allowed again on Facebook is the largest, most contentious and most controversial single content material moderation resolution the firm has ever made. So who’s going to make that decision? Well, surprisingly, not firm founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

The resolution will as an alternative be made by the Facebook Oversight Board, an unbiased physique usually described as a form of Supreme Court for Facebook. The board’s resolution might be introduced Wednesday.

If the thought of a Supreme Court for a social community leaves you with quite a lot of questions, effectively, you’re not the just one. Below, some frequent questions and solutions about the board to assist you stand up to velocity.

What is the Facebook Oversight Board?

The board is an unbiased, court-like entity for interesting content material choices on Facebook-owned platforms. It’s made up of 20 consultants in areas like free expression, human rights, and journalism.

Content moderation choices — for example, eradicating or not eradicating a selected put up — made by Facebook and Instagram might be appealed to the board as soon as customers have gone all the manner by way of the firm’s inner evaluate course of. Facebook says that choices made by the board are ultimate.

Facebook first introduced its intention to kind an unbiased entity to vet content material choices in November 2018. After some delay, the company announced in October 2020 that the board would start to hear instances.

Who is on the board?

Included amongst the 20 current members of the board are notable people from round the world, together with Helle Thorning-Schmidt, former prime minister of Denmark; Alan Rusbridger, former editor-in-chief of The Guardian; and Tawakkol Karman, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate who promoted non-violent change in Yemen throughout the Arab Spring, a motion through which social media performed an vital function.

But the board is simply going to do no matter Facebook needs, proper?

Nope. The board is designed to be unbiased of Facebook, in accordance to its charter. Facebook funds a belief that, in flip, funds the board. The trustees are “responsible for safeguarding the independence” of the board.

Critics of the company argue the board shouldn’t be really unbiased and is a “Facebook-paid, Facebook-appointed body created by Facebook to use to launder its most politically sensitive decisions.”

Suzanne Nossel, a Facebook Oversight Board member and CEO of the free expression group PEN America, advised NCS Business final week, “Obviously, Facebook has its own motives in this. Let’s be clear. They’re a profit-making enterprise. They wouldn’t have done this if they didn’t think it was good for business. They have taken some steps in putting money in a trust and creating an independent set of trustees that oversee the board itself. And so there are some efforts to make it genuinely independent.”

“Whether those go far enough, whether circumstances arise that test or challenge those parameters, we’ll have to see, but I think it’s crucial, if the board is going to play any kind of useful role, that that independence be absolutely respected,” she added.

Some — maybe many — choices the board makes could finally not be what Facebook would need, or may put the firm in some uncomfortable positions. But nonetheless the board guidelines, Facebook does get the good thing about some cowl on the most troublesome content material questions.

Does Facebook have to do what the board says?

A choice made by the board “will be binding and Facebook will implement it promptly, unless implementation of a resolution could violate the law,” in accordance to the board’s charter.

Remind me, what occurred to Trump’s Facebook account?

Trump had entry to his Facebook and Facebook-owned Instagram accounts cut off on January 7, a day after the lethal rebel in Washington DC. Zuckerberg wrote at the time, “We believe the risks of allowing the President to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great.”

What occurs after the board decides on Trump’s Facebook account?

The board’s resolution might be introduced at 9 a.m. ET on Wednesday. The board’s resolution on whether or not Trump must be allowed again on the platform is meant to be binding, that means Facebook is meant to take the motion.

The board will publish its resolution on its web site together with a proof of the way it reached the resolution. It is not going to, nonetheless, make public who on the board voted which manner; the board members will not be supposed to reveal that info themselves both.

The board says it obtained greater than 9,000 public responses on what to do about Trump’s account, and it’s anticipated to publish a pattern of these responses as effectively.

What instances has the board taken on earlier than this?

In its first set of rulings in January, the board overturned some choices Facebook had made.

In one case, Facebook had eliminated a put up from a consumer in Myanmar who had shared two pictures of a Syrian toddler of Kurdish ethnicity who drowned trying to attain Europe in 2015. The textual content accompanying the picture, in accordance to the board’s description, mentioned there was “something wrong with Muslims (or Muslim men) psychologically or with their mindset.” (Rohingya Muslims have been persecuted in Myanmar.)

Facebook eliminated the put up due to its hate speech insurance policies. The board overturned that call.

In a proof of the resolution posted to its web site, the board mentioned, “[W]hile the post might be considered pejorative or offensive towards Muslims, it did not advocate hatred or intentionally incite any form of imminent harm. As such, the Board does not consider its removal to be necessary to protect the rights of others.”

You can learn the full choices here.

— Brian Fung and Kaya Yurieff contributed reporting.


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