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Facebook Is Creating an Independent Board to Help With Tough Calls, But Questions Remain

Facebook is moving forward in its quest to create an external board that will have oversight over content moderation decisions on the platform, but first the company plans to spend six months figuring out the basics.

For starters: Who will sit on the board and how will they be chosen?

The idea of an independent board was mentioned by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg last November in a lengthy post titled: “A Blueprint for Content Governance and Enforcement.” On Monday, Nick Clegg, the former U.K. deputy prime minister, who recently took over as Facebook’s vice president of global affairs and communications, outlined the next steps in a draft charter.

The board will be an independent body of experts who will have the power to overturn or uphold Facebook’s content moderation decisions. They’ll be people who are experts in “content, privacy, free expression, human rights, journalism, civil rights, safety and other relevant disciplines,” according to Clegg. They’ll also be expected to transparently share how they decided each case.

But picking an independent board that accurately reflects the diversity of the more than 2 billion people who are on Facebook seems like a nearly impossible feat.

Facebook plans to spend the next six months holding workshops in Singapore, Delhi, Nairobi, Berlin, New York, Mexico City and many others in order to get feedback from people about how to best shape the board, including how many members it should have and how long their terms should last.

But Clegg acknowledged that “we know that we won’t be able to reach all stakeholders through regional workshops alone.”

In order to make the process as global and inclusive as possible, Clegg said Facebook will be sharing more details in the next few weeks about how think tanks and researchers around the world can submit proposals.