Given all the issues Facebook has had to deal with regarding content, the decision to create an independent Oversight Board was welcomed. However, in a Tweet, it has been revealed that the moderation group will not be ready until “late fall”.
As reported by Engadget, the Oversight Board will most likely not be ready to moderate Facebook’s content until after the Presidential election. This is problematic given this event is exactly the sort of thing Facebook needs the Oversight Board for.
Oversight Board delayed until late 2020
The Oversight Board was first announced back in May to change the way Facebook handles content. The company has a long history of dealing with hate speech, misinformation and moderating content poorly. Most recently refusing to moderate any of President Trump’s comments around the BLM protests.
This sort of behavior alongside data breaches has led advertisers to cut ties with the company in protest. In the month of July, a large number of advertisers are boycotting Facebook to show their dissatisfaction about how the company operates.
Facebook appears to have heard the message but is a long way away from fixing the systemic problems from within the company. The Oversight Board has said that “Our focus is on building a strong institution that will deliver concrete results over the long-term.”
Late Fall too little too late
The Oversight Board has the potential to make some real change from within Facebook. Being an independent group which is not obligated to justify its decisions to others it has genuine power.
However, the lethargic and haphazard nature of its inception is causing real problems. Some fear that it is already too late to save the issues that Facebook faces.
Missing the Presidential election at the end of 2020 is probably the biggest blow to the new board. This would have been an event to demonstrate Facebook’s new approach to content moderation.
However, when content moderation it probably at its most important Facebook will still be stuck in the past. This coupled with Free Press co-CEO Jessica Gonzalez saying that she did not see genuine change coming company makes for a grim future.
This could lead to further boycotts of Facebook by advertisers. This would further harm the platform as a whole and may result in genuine change over time. However, it appears that Facebook is listening to the demands and understands its problems.
The major issue the company faces is acting swiftly and decisively. For too long it ignored its problems with regards to content moderation.
Now it is unable to enact meaningful change in a timely manner. Hopefully, Facebook can turn this around but the future does not look great for Mark Zuckerberg’s company.