A 3D-printed Facebook logo is seen placed on a keyboard in this illustration taken 25 March 2020.
A 3D-printed Facebook logo is seen placed on a keyboard in this illustration taken 25 March 2020. Reuters/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

While an independent Facebook oversight board with 20 external members of the society (including one from India), formed in May this year to offer a new model of content moderation for Facebook and Instagram, is yet to begin functioning, a new alternative “the Real Facebook Oversight Board” has come into existence.

Formed last week by critics of the social network, the organisers slammed Facebook for a weak and inconsistent approach to threats or implications of violence.

They said Facebook has not done enough to counter premature claims of a Republican victory this November presidential election, reports Forbes.

“Our group has come together for one purpose: We demand comprehensive action to ensure that Facebook cannot be weaponized to undermine the vote and with it American democracy,” said Shoshana Zuboff, professor emerita at Harvard Business School and author of the book titled “The Age of Surveillance Capitalism”.

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The original Facebook oversight board has Sudhir Krishnaswamy, Vice Chancellor of the National Law School of India University in Bengaluru and the only member in the board from India.

Currently content moderation is done within the company. Besides using technology to bar harmful content from appearing on the sites, they also have a human moderation system.

The Facebook oversight board will give users a chance to appeal against any wrongful removal of their content. The decisions of the board will be binding on Facebook and Instagram.

“There are three possible channels through which cases can come to the Oversight Board. The Facebook content moderation team may itself refer a case to the board or a user may bring up a case and potentially even the Oversight Board itself might feel that a particular case should come to it,” Krishnaswamy told IANS in a recent interview.

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Meanwhile, the members of the alternative Facebook oversight board warned that future regulation and a possible forced break-up could come for Facebook.

“We’re not waiting for another election to go wrong. We believe accountability in real-time is vital,” they said.

In November 2018, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced a new ‘independent’ body to provide outside oversight and in May this year, the first 20 members of its new Oversight Board were announced.

“But it’s still not operational and even if it was, it only has limited powers to rule on whether content that was taken down should go back up. And once a case has been referred to it, this self-styled ‘Supreme Court’ can take up to 90 days to reach a verdict. This doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of the many urgent risks the platform poses to the upcoming election,” said the new alternative board.

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According to Krishnaswamy, the Facebook board will also review whether Facebook and Instagram will implement its decisions.

“Both Facebook and Instagram as well as their CEO have given a clear unequivocal undertaking that the decisions of the board will be implemented. We are confident that our decisions will be implemented,” he said.

However, Krishnaswamy, who is also Co-Founder of the Center for Law and Policy Research which works to advance constitutional values for everyone, including the LGBTQ+ and transgender persons in India, added that whether in the physical world or the Internet universe, there will always be some “compliance problem”.