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Facebook oversight board to start operating in October

FILE - In this May 16, 2012, file photo, the Facebook logo is displayed on an iPad in Philadelphia. Facebook has removed hundreds more social media accounts that it says belonged to members of two different white supremacy groups. The company announced the takedowns on Tuesday, June 16, 2020, saying it had removed more than 900 accounts from Facebook and Instagram affiliated with the Proud Boys and American Guard, two hate groups already banned from their platforms. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

LONDON (AP) — Facebook’s long-awaited oversight board that will act as a referee on whether specific content is allowed on the tech giant’s platforms is set to launch in October.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg said two years ago that he was setting up the quasi-independent board, following intense criticism that the company wasn’t moving fast enough to remove misinformation, hate speech and malign influence campaigns. The board is intended to rule on thorny content issues, such as when Facebook or Instagram posts constitute hate speech.

“We are currently testing the newly deployed technical systems that will allow users to appeal and the Board to review cases,” it said in a statement Thursday.

If those tests go to plan, the board said it would start accepting and reviewing appeals from users in mid to late October.

The board was initially expected to start operating in early 2020 but the launch was delayed.

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“Building a process that is thorough, principled and globally effective takes time and our members have been working aggressively to launch as soon as possible,” the board said.

The board’s 20 members are a multinational group that includes legal scholars, human rights experts and journalists.

It will start by hearing appeals from users whose content has been taken down by Facebook before expanding to appeals from users who want the company to remove content. Facebook can also refer cases to the board on its own.

Its decisions and the company’s responses will be public. Rulings will be binding in individual cases, but broader policy findings will be advisory.

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