Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on Thursday (15 November) that the social media network is creating an independent body to help it decide which content to remove. Zuckerberg’s announcement came a day after The New York Times (NYT) reported on Facebook’s efforts to avoid and deflect blame in the public conversation around its handling of Russian interference in the US election and other misuses on its platform. The NYT report detailed how Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg and other executives tried to “downplay and spin bad news.” Among other things, Facebook worked with a Washington-based public relations firm, Definers Public Affairs, which wrote articles criticising the business practices of rivals such as Apple and Google, while at the same time downplaying concerns about Facebook’s own problems. It has since ended its relationship with Definers Public Affairs.
Facebook indicated that it will start to pilot this independent body in 1H19 and hopes to have established it in full by the end of next year. The firm has not yet decided how members of the body will be selected as well as other key details.
According to CNBC, the move could help Facebook avoid accusations of bias as it removes material deemed problematic, including fake news and hate speech. Some US conservative groups and lawmakers have accused Facebook and other social media outlets of censoring politically conservative points of view, a charge which Facebook denies.
The proposed independent body will make its decisions in a transparent and binding fashion, Zuckerberg said in a post writing that it “will prevent the concentration of too much decision-making within our teams,”.