Facebook’s Oversight Board won’t start until late fall

Facebook’s Oversight Board won’t begin to hear cases until late fall, meaning it may not be operational until the end of the 2020 election season. 

The Board announced the new expected start period via Twitter on Wednesday, July 8, saying the timetable to start hearing cases is not based around any single event. 

“We understand many people are eager for the Board to officially begin our task of providing independent oversight of Facebook’s content decisions. We share this urgency, but the Board won’t be operational until late Fall,” the Board tweeted. 

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When the Oversight Board members were revealed in May, they said they would begin to hear cases within the next few months and prioritize cases that could impact many users, are essential to public discourse, or raise questions about Facebook’s policies. 

With the timeline now being pushed back until late fall, that could mean the presidential election would come and go without the Board’s oversight on how things like misinformation and voter interference are handled on Facebook. 

The Board also mentioned Facebook’s final civil rights audit in its string of tweets, which was also released on Wednesday. The 100-page review found that Facebook’s decision not to fact-check political posts has left its platform vulnerable to politicians’ misuse to interfere with voting and suppress civil rights. 

“The Oversight Board has taken note of Facebook’s civil rights audit which underlines the need for a transparent, independent oversight process focused on protecting human rights and free expression,” the Board said in a tweet. 

The mission of the Oversight Board is to review appeals to Facebook’s policy decisions and is meant to be completely separate from Facebook leadership. The Board has the ability to overrule Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Its 40 members were announced earlier this year and included people from 27 different countries with backgrounds in journalism, constitutional law, human rights, and free speech. 

Digital Trends reached out to the Oversight Board to find out more about the new timeline. We will update this story when we hear back. 

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