Facebook will have a Supreme Court–like body within a year

Who’s to judge?
Who’s to judge?
Image: Reuters/Shu Zhang
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Within a year, Facebook will introduce an independent body that will oversee appeals about content decisions, Mark Zuckerberg announced on Thursday (Nov. 15).

Zuckerberg had hinted about this solution earlier this year, and as Facebook grapples with scandal after scandal related to bad content on the platform, he’s putting the idea into action.

“I’ve increasingly come to believe that Facebook should not make so many important decisions about free expression and safety on our own,” he writes in a post. On a call with reporters, Zuckerberg said that one example of an area that Facebook needs help with is determining when something is hate speech.

Facebook users are able to submit an appeal when their accounts or pages get suspended, and, as of this year, they can also appeal decisions that take down their individual posts. The process will continue to work this way, but if users don’t agree with the appeal decision, they will be able to go to the independent committee. When he initially floated the idea, Zuckerberg framed it as a “Supreme Court” for Facebook.

The new body’s decisions “would be transparent and binding.” Here’s how he outlines his reasoning for establishing it:

First, it will prevent the concentration of too much decision-making within our teams. Second, it will create accountability and oversight. Third, it will provide assurance that these decisions are made in the best interests of our community and not for commercial reasons.

We don’t have much detail on how the body will work. Zuckerberg said that “starting today” the company is launching a consultation period to answer some of the most pressing questions, like who will be on this body, how will its independence be ensured, how will the petition process work, and how will it handle the volume of appeals. The company will test different solutions in different areas of the world.

He added:

Over time, I believe this body will play an important role in our overall governance. Just as our board of directors is accountable to our shareholders, this body would be focused only on our community.