With the news that Facebook’s Oversight Board has ruled that four of its decisions to remove content from the website were wrong, there is a big question mark over the board’s independence. The charter of the board shows that it consists of two sources of independence, both of which have been implicated in the scandal.
XCheck documents show that Facebook misled the Oversight Board
The Wall Street Journal recently revealed that Facebook has a special system that allows its algorithms to determine whether content is appropriate for users. It was created to reduce the workload of human reviewers.
The system is called XCheck, and it is a quality control tool. But it expanded over time. Last year, tens of thousands of new accounts were added to the program.
It is used to protect public figures from content that is inflammatory, harmful, or incites violence. XCheck also includes a whitelist system. Some users are whitelisted, meaning they are allowed to post content pending reviews by Facebook employees. These rules are not applied to other users.
Despite Facebook’s claims to the contrary, the documents reveal that the company’s systems are not always correct. For example, some users are allowed to post rule-violating material while pending review by Facebook employees.
Oversight Board rules to overturn four out of five decisions by Facebook to remove content
Facebook’s Oversight Board issued its first rulings on Thursday. The panel overturned four of the five decisions it has made to remove content from users’ Facebook accounts.
In the first ruling, the board overturned the decision to take down an anti-Muslim post from Myanmar. It also found that a user’s post quoting Nazi Germany’s Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels was an attack on government policy, rather than a hate speech item.
The board also ruled to reinstate a post from a French user that praised the drug hydroxychloroquine. However, it did not rule that the company’s amplification algorithm was working properly.
As a result of the decision, Facebook has reinstated posts from several users. A user in France had posted a photo of a woman’s nipple that said “hydroxychloroquine is a good drug” while quoting a doctor. This user argued that the quote was not meant to spread hate material, but was instead a criticism of former US president Donald Trump.
The board’s independence comes from two places
Director independence is an important issue in corporate governance and litigation. It’s especially relevant in situations involving insider transactions, where directors’ conduct is put under a microscope.
There are two ways to determine director independence. The first involves the status-based approach. This is used by the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (SOX) and other regulators. A director is considered independent if he or she has no material relationship to the listed company.
The other approach, the contextual approach, focuses on conflicts of interest. This allows for a more thorough analysis of the nature of director independence. For instance, in the case of Nasdaq, a director can be considered independent if he or she is not an employee, an officer, or a member of an immediate family, including spouses, children, and parents.
Mark Zuckerberg’s answer to freedom of speech controversy is to outsource
There is no denying that Facebook is king of the social media sphere. While ad hominems may be the order of the day, Zuckerberg can boast an impressive track record when it comes to building a savvy business empire. Despite the many hiccups and near fatal incidents, the company remains a pillar of the techie community. This has spawned an army of savvy employees willing to bet their bacon on the Facebook brand. Toss in the benefactors and the social media behemoth becomes a force to be reckoned with. The likes of Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, are a rare breed indeed. Aside from his plethora of charms, the man himself is a ferocious leader and is a good judge of a worthy successor. No doubt he will be a stellar asset to the Facebook family in the long run