Facebook to Set Aside $130 Million for Content Oversight Board

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(Bloomberg) -- Facebook Inc. has pledged $130 million over six years to pay for its proposed content oversight board, a Supreme Court-like group of outsiders that will help make some decisions about whether posts violate the company’s policies.

Facebook first announced plans to create the board in November 2018, and some details about its structure and implementation have been released over the past year. The oversight board has been presented as a solution to complaints that Facebook is too powerful, and has too much control over what users can and cannot post. While the new board won’t write content policies for the company, it will be asked to interpret them and review instances when those decisions by Facebook’s content moderators are questioned.

The money will be placed in a trust and used to fund the board’s operations and independent staff for the next six years, according to a Facebook blog post. The trust was created as a buffer between the oversight board and the company in an effort to uphold the independence of the members.

It’s still unclear when this content oversight board will be fully functional. Facebook originally set a goal to pick the group’s 40 members by the end of the year, but now says that won’t happen until 2020.

“We’ve decided to take additional time to consider the many candidates who continue to be put forward,” Facebook wrote in the post. Facebook also has not published any bylaws for the board, which will outline how the group operates. It’s expected that members won’t be required to work full time, although they will be paid.

It’s unclear if the board will be up and running in time for the 2020 U.S. presidential election. Facebook has been heavily scrutinized ahead of the election given its role in propagating Russian disinformation four years ago. The company is already dealing with content issues for this election cycle, specifically a policy that it won’t fact-check posts from politicians, including ads. The policy has drawn ire from Democratic presidential candidates who are worried it will lead to the spread of fake news.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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