GPD Responds to Facebook’s Draft Charter

1 May 2019

GPD has responded to a set of questions posed by Facebook on its proposed oversight model for content moderation decisions.

Facebook first announced its decision to establish an Oversight Board at the end of 2018 and, earlier this year, published a draft Charter setting out a range of proposals – covering the membership of the Board, and how it will operate.

In our response to those proposals – and the specific questions posed by Facebook – we emphasised:

  • the importance of a diverse Oversight Board with a broad range of experience and expertise;
  • openness and transparency in the selection of the Board;
  • consistency in decisionmaking; and
  • regular independent reviews of the Board’s functioning.

In addition, we noted three important considerations that should be taken into account as the Oversight Board is further developed:

  • First – while the draft Charter covers aspects of the Board and its working methods, it is likely that other procedural questions will emerge in the Board’s development relating to the internal processes by which it board fulfils its functions. The final Charter should therefore make clear that the Board will be able to develop and revise its own internal procedural rules, provided that these are not inconsistent with anything in the Charter.
  • Second, the draft Charter makes reference to a “full-time staff, which will serve the board and ensure that its decisions are implemented”. GPD believes that this secretariat should also be able to undertake some of the more logistical functions outlined in the draft Charter – for example, sifting potential cases to make sure procedural requirements are met – to allow the Board to focus on actual decisionmaking. GPD therefore recommends that the final Charter provide greater clarity on the functions that this secretariat will undertake.
  • Third, the draft Charter makes occasional reference to the relationship between the Board and Facebook when it comes to Facebook’s role in setting the company’s content moderation policies, without making clear the scope of the Board’s role in this respect. GPD believes that the Board’s role should be spelled out more clearly in the Charter; and recommends that it should be able to proactively recommend changes to Facebook’s content moderation policies.

In parallel with this process, Facebook is also running an open public consultation on its plans, which is open until mid-May. GPD will also be responding to that consultation process.