On May 6, Facebook announced the first 20 members of its Oversight Board — including one Indian, Sudhir Krishnaswamy, the vice-chancellor of National Law School of India University and co-founder of Centre for Law and Policy Research. This Oversight Board will review content appeals from users, and “significant” and “difficult” content referred to it by Facebook. These will be increased to 40 over time. All members are independent from Facebook and all other social media companies, and the decisions of this external Oversight Board will be “final and binding”.
Who are the members? The Board has four co-chairs — Catalina Botero-Marino (Colombia, lawyer), Jamal Greene (USA, lawyer), Michael McConnell (USA, lawyer), and Helle Thorning-Schmidt (Denmark, political scientist and retired politician).
Other members are:
- Sudhir Krishnaswamy (India, lawyer)
- Nighat Dad (Pakistan, lawyer and activist)
- Endy Bayuni (Indonesia, journalist)
- Katherine Chen (Taiwan, communications scholar)
- Tawakkol Karman (Yemen, Nobel Laureate, journalist and activist)
- Emi Palmor (Israel, lawyer and activist)
- Afia Asantewaa Asare-Kyei (Ghana, Senegal, lawyer and activist)
- Maina Kiai (Kenya, lawyer and activist)
- Julie Owono (Cameroon, France, lawyer)
- Ronaldo Lemos (Brazil, lawyer)
- Nicholas Suzor (Australia, lawyer)
- Alan Rusbridger (UK, journalist)
- András Sajó (Hungary, lawyer)
- Evelyn Aswad (USA, lawyer)
- Pamela Karlan (USA, lawyer)
- John Samples (USA, political scientist and academic)
The Board is, as expected, dominated by people from the US (25%) and lawyers (70%).
How were the Board members selected? Facebook recruited the four co-chairs, with the assistance of recruiting specialists. These four co-chairs were responsible for interviewing and approving the rest of the Board, in partnership with Facebook and executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles. Facebook also created a public portal where people could submit the name of a qualified candidate.
When will the Board start hearing cases? “In the coming months”. The company is still assessing the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the Board’s operations, including recruitment, training, and implementation of data security and privacy tools.