Pakistan's Nighat Dad named as member of Facebook's oversight board

Facebook's oversight board will be able to overturn content moderation decisions by Mark Zuckerberg

Reuters/Tech Desk May 07, 2020
Human rights award winner and founder of Pakistan's first cyber-harassment helpline, Nighat Dad, is a digital warrior. PHOTO: AFP

Pakistani digital rights advocate, Nighat Dad has been named as member of Facebook's  independent oversight board that can overrule the company’s own content moderation decisions.

Facebook announced a group of 20 members, including four co-chairs who helped select the others. The board, which is expected to start hearing cases this summer, is planned to grow to about 40 members.


Dad, a human rights award winner and founder of Digital Rights Foundation Pakistan is looking forward to the new role.

The new oversight board, which some have dubbed Facebook’s “Supreme Court,” will be able to overturn decisions by the company and Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg on whether individual pieces of content should be allowed on Facebook and Instagram.

Nighat Dad, Pakistan's digital warrior battling the patriarchy

"With our size comes a great deal of responsibility, and while we have always taken advice from experts on how to best keep our platforms safe, until now, we have made the final decisions about what should be allowed on our platforms and what should be removed. And these decisions often are not easy to make – most judgments do not have obvious, or uncontroversial, outcomes and yet many of them have significant implications for free expression," according to the company's website.

The list of members includes a former prime minister, former European Court of Human Rights judge András Sajó, Internet Sans Frontières Executive Director Julie Owono, Yemeni activist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Tawakkol Karman, and former editor-in-chief of the Guardian Alan Rusbridger.

“We’re not working for Facebook, we’re trying to pressure Facebook to improve its policies and its processes to better respect human rights. That’s the job,” board member and internet governance researcher Nicolas Suzor told Reuters.

“I don’t expect people to say, ‘Oh hallelujah, these are great people, this is going to be a great success’ - there’s no reason anyone should believe that this is going to be a great success until it really starts hearing difficult cases in the months and indeed years to come,” said Nick Clegg, Facebook’s head of global affairs.

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Facebook has long faced criticism for high-profile content moderation issues. Hence the oversight board will focus on a small slice of challenging content issues including hate speech and harassment and people’s safety.

The board will start work immediately and it would begin hearing cases this summer.


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