Thursday 24 September 2020 11:18 am

Facebook to launch oversight board just before US election

Facebook is planning to launch its long-delayed oversight board in mid- to late October, just ahead of the US presidential election, following mounting criticism over its handling of hate speech and other divisive content. 

The social media giant’s independent oversight board will initially have the power to review decisions to remove content from Facebook and Instagram and recommend policy changes, but a board member said he did not know whether it would hear cases related to the US election.

Read more: Facebook backtracks on pulling out of Europe over data laws

The board was first announced by Facebook founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg in 2018, and the company said last September that it would launch in early 2020. 

Facebook has come under increasing pressure to take more action to tackle problematic content amid warnings of potential increases in hate speech and posts inciting violence in the run up to the vote on 3 November. 

However some experts have said the oversight board will not be able to help combat misinformation, because it will have no authority at first to evaluate posts that the company decides to leave up.

Board member Alan Rusbridger said in an interview that the board was now preparing to launch in October. 

Rusbridger, a former editor of the Guardian, told Reuters he did not know whether the board would hear cases related to the US presidential election. 

The board’s rules allow it up to three months to decide on which cases it will hear, and a further three months to deliver its rulings. 

Citing a source familiar with the situation, the Financial Times reported that Facebook has no plans to refer expedited cases related to the election to the oversight board. 

Read more: Facebook removes network of Chinese accounts over US election influence

A spokesperson confirmed the timetable to Reuters, and said the launch had been slowed by the coronavirus pandemic. 

City A.M. has contacted Facebook for comment. 

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