Meta’s Oversight Board: A Review and Critical Assessment

Minds and Machines, forthcoming

19 Pages Posted: 24 Oct 2022

See all articles by David Wong

David Wong

University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute

Luciano Floridi

Yale University - Digital Ethics Center; University of Bologna- Department of Legal Studies

Date Written: October 22, 2022

Abstract

Since the announcement and establishment of the Oversight Board (OB) by the technology company Meta as an independent institution reviewing Facebook and Instagram’s content moderation decisions, the OB has been subjected to scholarly scrutiny ranging from praise to criticism. However, there is currently no overarching framework for understanding the OB’s various strengths and weaknesses. Consequently, this article analyses, organises, and supplements academic literature, news articles, and Meta and OB documents to understand the OB’s strengths and weaknesses and how it can be improved. Significant strengths include its ability to enhance the transparency of content moderation decisions and processes, to effect reform indirectly through policy recommendations, and its assertiveness in interpreting its jurisdiction and overruling Meta. Significant weaknesses include its limited jurisdiction, limited impact, Meta’s control over the OB’s precedent, and its lack of diversity. The analysis of a recent OB case in Ethiopia shows these strengths and weaknesses in practice. The OB’s relationship with Meta and governments will lead to challenges and opportunities shaping its future development. Reforms to the OB should improve the OB’s control over its precedent, apply OB precedent to currently disputed cases, and clarify the standards for invoking OB precedent. Finally, these reforms provide the foundation for an additional improvement to address the OB’s institutional weaknesses, by involving users in determining whether the OB’s precedent should be applied to decide current content moderation disputes.

Keywords: content moderation, digital governance, digital regulation, Facebook, Meta, Oversight Board

Suggested Citation

Wong, David and Floridi, Luciano, Meta’s Oversight Board: A Review and Critical Assessment (October 22, 2022). Minds and Machines, forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4255817

David Wong

University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute ( email )

1 St. Giles
University of Oxford
Oxford OX1 3PG Oxfordshire, Oxfordshire OX1 3JS
United Kingdom

Luciano Floridi (Contact Author)

Yale University - Digital Ethics Center ( email )

85 Trumbull Street
New Haven, CT CT 06511
United States
2034326473 (Phone)

University of Bologna- Department of Legal Studies ( email )

Via Zamboni 22
Bologna, Bo 40100
Italy

HOME PAGE: http://www.unibo.it/sitoweb/luciano.floridi/en

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