Facebook critics launch alternative oversight board for content moderation

The alternative board was not welcomed by Facebook.

Mark Zuckerberg speaks at Facebook's annual F8 developers conference in San Jose, California (photo credit: STEPHEN LAM / REUTERS)
Mark Zuckerberg speaks at Facebook's annual F8 developers conference in San Jose, California
(photo credit: STEPHEN LAM / REUTERS)
A group of 25 experts have launched an alternative oversight board as a way of evaluating Facebook in light of widespread criticism of its content moderation practices, NBC reported on Friday.
The report noted that the new committee, called the Real Facebook Oversight Board, examine Facebook's alleged inaction on policies and platforms for extremist content particularly in the weeks leading up to the US presidential election. 
The group of 25 will consist of experts from academia, civil rights, politics and journalism, and plans to hold its first meeting on Facebook Live on October 1, which will be hosted by Recode founder Kara Swisher. 
Facebook's official oversight committee, which was announced on Wednesday, has also faced criticism after it was uncovered in a Jerusalem Post report that some of its members have ties to controversial organizations. 
A member of Facebook's new oversight board, which will have control over the content moderation process for the social media platform, has in the past expressed support for the Muslim Brotherhood, according to the Middle East Media Research Institute and media reports.
Facebook announced the first 20 members of its oversight board, which has been handed the final say on what user-generated content the platform removes. Among the members are Yemeni Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Tawakkol Karman, who was awarded the accolade for her role in the Arab Spring.
However, Karman also appears to have links to the Muslim Brotherhood, which has been proscribed as a terror organization by several countries including Saudi Arabia, Russia and Bahrain. The Muslim Brotherhood has stated that its aim is the establishment of a state run under Sharia law. It is also the precursor to Hamas.
When Karman won the peace prize in 2011, the Muslim Brotherhood's official website, Ihkwanweb, put out a statement congratulating her and recognizing her as a member of a Muslim Brotherhood branch.
The statement, dated October 9, 2011, read: "Dr. Abdul-Rahman Ba-Fadel, president of the parliamentary bloc of the Yemeni Congregation for Reform (YCR), Yemen's Muslim Brotherhood, congratulated the Yemeni political activist Tawakkul Karman, member of the YCR, for winning the Nobel Peace Prize."
Karman herself has also made public statements in support of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has described the oversight board as an independent "Supreme Court" for content moderation decisions, but which won't be operational by the time of the US presidential election. It was indicated that the panel of 20 experts will start reviewing cases in October, but may take up to 90 days to make final decisions 
Nevertheless, the alternative board was developed as a project The Citizens, a UK-based advocacy group founded by the Guardian and Observer journalist Carole Cadwalladr, following a March 2018 investigation into Facebook's data sharing practices in relation to the Cambridge Analytica controversy. 
"This is an emergency response," Cadwalladr told NBC. 
"We know there are going to be a series of incidents leading up to the election and beyond in which Facebook is crucial. This is a real-time response from an authoritative group of experts to counter the spin Facebook is putting out."
The alternative board was not welcomed by Facebook. 
Brent Harris, Facebook's director of governance and global affairs, claimed that the committee was unhelpful and undermining the company's policy.