Facebook critics launch rival oversight board

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Critics of Facebook Inc, including the architects of an advertising boycott against the company, on Friday launched a rival oversight board to review the company’s content moderation practices.

FILE PHOTO: A 3D-printed Facebook dislike button is seen in front the Facebook logo, in this illustration taken October 25, 2017. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

The new group, which bills itself as the “Real Facebook Oversight Board,” counts among its initial members the heads of three U.S. civil rights groups, the former president of Estonia and the former head of election integrity at Facebook.

The announced launch comes a day after Facebook’s officially-mandated Oversight Board said it would start work in mid-late October, nearly a year behind schedule.

That delay means the official Facebook-funded board is unlikely to review cases related to the Nov. 3 U.S. election, which has generated some of the most contentious issues faced by the world’s biggest social network.

The rival board plans to move at a faster clip. It will hold its first general meeting next week, it said in a statement, and focus squarely on election topics, including voter suppression, election security and misinformation.

Facebook “responds to criticism with bad faith statements and cosmetic changes,” said board member Roger McNamee, an early investor in Facebook who turned critical of its leaders over their handling of misuse of the platform in the 2016 election.

“The Real Oversight Board will act as a watchdog, helping policymakers and consumers defend against a renegade platform.”

Members plan to broadcast their meetings in weekly shows on Facebook Live, according to the statement.

The group said it was being funded by Luminate, a philanthropy backed by The Omidyar Group, but did not disclose a funding amount.

Facebook has committed $130 million to its project, which it said would cover operational costs for at least six years.

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