Facebook, the world’s largest social network, announced last week that it is beefing up the powers of its Oversight Board, the board that makes such decisions as whether former President Trump will be reinstated. The administrative director of the board is Thomas Hughes, who spoke recently to Digital Bridge on this subject.
The power of the social media companies was one of the themes of the recent Presidential election. There is a lot of sentiment that they are simultaneously too powerful and inadequately responsible. The companies involved have been trying to address some of these complaints themselves, and Facebook’s Oversight Board, sometimes called its “Supreme Court,” is one of those efforts. At present it considers appeals brought by customers whose content has been blocked by Facebook algorithms or management. In the future, though, it may be in a position to set broad policies.
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Hughes is a former executive director of the rights group Article19, and he retains a reputation for human rights activism. He says that he knows that the Oversight Board’s decisions may run up against some countries’ domestic views as to what is allowed on line, and he says, “that will be an interesting moment.”