Social media has advantages as well as disadvantages. While it can help people consume good content and be aware of events happening around them, there are several negative impacts of it as well, for instance, the spread of hateful, harmful and deceitful speech. Of late we have seen platforms like Twitter and Facebook monitor and pull down content that stands against their policies.
To moderate content posted on social media platforms, Facebook’s oversight board represents a new model of content moderation for Facebook and Instagram. Today the company announced the initial 20 members who will be a part of the board. Notably, the Board will review content referred to it by both users and Facebook
Among the 20 is one Indian, Sudhir Krishnaswamy. The board comprises of independent Members from around the world and will make final and binding decisions on what content Facebook and Instagram should be allowed or removed from Facebook and Instagram, based on respect for freedom of expression and human rights.
The board members are from over 27 countries who speak at least 29 languages. Some are former heads of state, three former judges, six former or current journalists, two former human rights rapporteurs, and other leaders with backgrounds from civil society, academia and public service.
Sudhir Krishnaswamy is the India Vice-Chancellor of the National Law School of India University, and also co-founder of the Center for Law and Policy Research, an advocacy organization that has substantially advanced the rights of LGBTQ+ and transgenders in India through impact litigation.
In the past, Krishnaswamy was the Director of the School of Policy and Governance and Professor of Law and Politics at Azim Premji University, and the Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Visiting Professor of Indian Constitutional Law at Columbia Law School. He graduated with a BA LLB from the National Law School of India University and as a Rhodes Scholar, read for a Bachelors of Civil Law and a Doctor of Philosophy (Law) from the University of Oxford.
Previously, he taught law at universities in the UK, India, Australia and at Columbia Law School in the US. Last year, Krishnaswamy became the youngest ever Vice Chancellor of NLSIU. He has also written on a wide range of topics, including Indian constitutional law, intellectual property law, and judicial corruption.
Earlier, Krishnaswamy also cautioned on the importance of ensuring that regulatory frameworks governing content platforms are “consistent with our constitutional and political values of our democracy,” and that “excessive and dangerous discretion in the hands of regulating officers of the government” could “lead to violation of basic human rights and constitutionally protected fundamental rights of citizens”.
The oversight board is aimed to resolve the increasingly complex and contentious debates about what types of content should be and not be permitted on Facebook and Instagram. Notably, the board members are independent of the company, and cannot be removed by Facebook based on their decisions. All decisions taken by the board will be implemented by Facebook as long as they do not violate the law.
“The work of the Board is commencing immediately, and we are on track to begin hearing cases in the coming months. We are still assessing how the global response to the coronavirus pandemic may impact important steps required for the Board to reach full operational capability, including recruiting staff, training Members and implementing tools essential to ensuring data privacy and security,” noted the press statement.