Big Tech podcast: Kate Klonick on Facebook’s Oversight Board


Facebook is establishing a 40-person oversight board to pass rulings on whether or not content should remain on its platform. The board aims to represent all regions of the world, rulings are set to be released in multiple languages and decisions about content to be made expeditiously. Only one researcher, Kate Klonick, was invited in to observe the process that went into establishing the framework for this oversight board.

In this episode of Big Tech, co-hosts David Skok and Taylor Owen speak with Klonick, an assistant professor of law at St. John’s University law school, and an affiliate fellow at Yale Law School about what she witnessed in this process. Klonick was embedded in Menlo Park without a non-disclosure agreement, given full access to meetings and was able to record all the conversations and workshops. Throughout the process, she maintained her academic immunity, not accepting anything from Facebook—not even a free hotel room.

Klonick discusses the struggles faced by the team tasked with building the oversight board. At the beginning, it didn’t look like the project could be a success: “My lens is obviously from a legal perspective, and it’s a little bit like when you’re a hammer, everything’s a nail. I look at a lot of the problems that I was seeing as they were creating this oversight board, and it was comparative constitutionalism, it was administrative law, it was democratic legitimacy.” Facebook continued to work on the oversight board, and as Kate admits, they did solve many of huge constitutional problems presented by content moderation. But she is still skeptical about how this board will scale, whether it will be overrun with appeals and how will the public will perceive its effectiveness.

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