Meta’s Oversight Board and Transnational Hybrid Adjudication – What Consequences for International Law?
KFG Working Paper Series, No. 53 (2022), Berlin Potsdam Research Group “The International Rule of Law – Rise or Decline?”
27 Pages Posted: 11 Apr 2022
Date Written: March 2022
Meta, formerly the Facebook Company, faces immense pressure from users, governments and civil society to act transparently and with accountability. Responding to such calls, in 2018, it announced plans to create an independent oversight body to review content decisions. Such a forum is now in place in the form of the Oversight Board. To Meta’s credit, the speed at which the Oversight Board has been established is remarkable. Within two years, a global consultation process was completed with input obtained from users as well as experts, the regulatory infrastructure for the Oversight Board built, its members selected, and the first decisions of the Board already rendered in January 2021. No expense has been spared. Facebook has created a trust worth 130 million US dollars to fund the Oversight Board. With its institutional structure in place, and plenty of resources to tap into, the Oversight Board could have a real impact on how some transnational disputes are resolved. Thus, the Oversight Board may very well be setting the direction for how tech companies in particular, and multinational corporations in general, go about providing grievance mechanisms to individuals who their actions adversely impact. Through a study of the Oversight Board, this paper considers whether we are witnessing the birth of a special type of ‘transnational hybrid adjudication’. The paper first clarifies what is meant by the phrase ‘transnational hybrid adjudication’. And then using the example of the Oversight Board, it considers whether the Oversight Board can properly be characterised as a transnational adjudicative body that joins the myriad of other international dispute resolution mechanisms that exist today. Giving an affirmative answer to that question, the paper finally discusses whether the Oversight Board is a new type of adjudicative mechanism that could have a systemic impact on international law, or an experiment with limited relevance.
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