Facebook oversight board's first cases draw skepticism

Critics said case topics weren't impactful enough

Facebook's independent oversight board has disclosed the first six cases it will review, drawing flak from critics who say they aren't significant enough and that the panel should have met before the U.S. presidential election.

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The cases picked from all over the world are set to be heard over the next three months and include topics ranging from the tech platform's nudity policies to coronavirus misinformation. There is one only U.S.-based case and it involves a two-year-old post of an alleged quote from Nazi Germany’s Reich Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels.

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In a blog post announcing the selection of cases and the appointment of trustees to the board, Facebook explained that it prioritized the six out of a pool of more than 20,000 based on their "potential to affect lots of users around the world."

The case descriptions were presented in a way that protect the anonymity of those involved, Facebook explained.

Each case has been assigned five-member panels, including at least one member from the region "implicated in the content."

"The board expects to decide on each case, and for Facebook to have acted on this decision within 90 days," the company said. "This timeline includes time for translations and case preparation by Facebook, the user, and the oversight board to ensure that the case is represented properly."

"Once the board has reached a decision on these cases, Facebook will be required to implement our decisions, as well as publicly respond to any additional policy recommendations the board makes," the panel members said.

However, the choices made by its members have elicited criticism from those who say picks were not impactful enough and that the group should have met prior to November's presidential election.

External Real Facebook Oversight Board (RFOB) founder Roger McNamee said in a statement to Vice News that the decisions were "toothless" and provide the opportunity for "too many loopholes."

Instead, they believe the board should launch inquiries into threats made by the likes of former Trump strategist Steve Bannon and restrictions by the Vietnamese government and plan to hear their own "cases."

Nevertheless, the Oversight Board created in September is to be used for exactly that: oversight. The company's CEO Mark Zuckerberg compared the group to a Supreme Court for Facebook.

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Members do not have the power to write policy and, as Mashable reported Tuesday, there are options for the social media giant on some individual rulings.

Facebook can ask the board for nonbinding policy recommendations, but it has reportedly yet to do so.

The board didn't immediately respond to a request for comment from FOX Business.