Social Media

The Facebook Oversight Board Issued Its First Decisions. Here’s How We’re Tracking Them.

By Robert Chesney, Evelyn Douek, Quinta Jurecic, Jacob Schulz, Elliot Setzer, Tia Sewell
Thursday, January 28, 2021, 10:44 AM

This morning, Jan. 28, the Facebook Oversight Board—the company’s experiment in independent platform governance—released its first batch of opinions reviewing Facebook’s takedown of a variety of posts.

It’s not exactly comparable to the Supreme Court’s first-ever ruling in West v. Barnes, let alone Marbury v. Madison. The Facebook Oversight Board is not a real court, after all. But this may turn out to be a comparable milestone, given how rapidly actual public squares are ceding ground to virtual ones owned by private social media companies. At any rate, today is the coming out party. And unlike the Supreme Court, the board is coming out swinging, with Facebook losing “on the merits” in most of the cases.

Welcome to the new age of speech regulation, where the government lurks in the background but all the action is in private hands, at least for now. The ride promises to be bumpy, and increasingly consequential. Which is why Lawfare has decided to launch a dedicated feature—a blog within a blog—to help you all stay on top of things: the Facebook Oversight Board Blog, to be known evermore simply as FOB Blog.

Check it out here!

Consider this our soft launch, and a promise of much more to come. You can access the page under our “resource pages” link on the menu bar at the top of the site. On the page, you’ll find all the essentials: timely updates on the pending cases, the FOB rulings, the responses from Facebook (expected within seven days for today’s ruling, by the way), and of course written analysis and the Arbiters of Truth podcast.

It’s a whole new ballgame…