Facebook announced that they have appointed their first members of their new Oversight Board which includes the Kenyan activist, Maina Kiai.
The 20 member strong board are drawn from all over the world and represent diverse professional, cultural, political and religious backgrounds and viewpoints.
Maina Kiai is the Director of the Global Alliances and Partnerships at Human Rights Watch. He was widely known as the former head of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights and the Kenya Human Rights Commission.
“We have been talking for a long time about creating some kind of independent governance structure for making big companies more accountable on some of the most important decisions they make,” Maina Kiai said. “State regulation is important and I think we need to make progress there too, but I think the Board is an exciting experiment and I’m excited to be a part of it.”
Maina Kiai is part of the 3 Africans that have been selected to the board. The others include Julie Owono from Cameroon and Asare-Kyei from Senegal.
The board will tackle complex and contentious debates about what types of content should and should not be permitted on Facebook and Instagram and who should decide. They will prioritize on cases that will potentially impact many users, are of critical importance to public discourse or raise questions about Facebook’s policies. The decisions by the Board must be implemented by Facebook, as long as they do not violate the law.
The Oversight Board will begin hearing cases later this year where users will be able to appeal to the Board in cases where Facebook has removed their content. They will also review content referred to it by Facebook.
The board members are not Facebook employees and cannot be removed by Facebook. They will serve a maximum of three 3 year terms and case panels will be confidential and assigned at random. The board has a $130 million trust fund (Kshs 13 billion) that is independent of Facebook and will fund its operations and cannot be revoked.
Decisions made by the board will be made public and Facebook must respond publicly to them. The decisions will be published on its website while protecting the identity and privacy of those involved. The board will also publish an annual report on its work to evaluate how it is fulfilling its purpose.
Over time, Facebook expects the board to grow to 40 members from the current 20 member team.