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Maina Kiai joins 20 others on Facebook board

By Frankline Sunday | May 7th 2020
Human rights activist Maina Kiai has been appointed to the Facebook Oversight Board. [File, Standard]

Global tech giant Facebook has appointed human rights lawyer Maina Kiai to its oversight board.

Mr Kiai, currently the director of Global Alliances and Partnerships at Human Rights Watch, has been named as one of the 20 experts who will independently make decisions on whether content on Facebook and Instagram posts should be taken down.

The appointment highlights the significance of the Kenyan market to the firm’s operations.

"The oversight board represents a new model of content moderation for Facebook and Instagram and today, we are proud to announce our initial members,” said a statement from Facebook.

"The board will review whether content is consistent with Facebook and Instagram’s policies and values, as well as a commitment to upholding freedom of expression within the framework of international norms of human rights.”

The Facebook oversight board is currently composed of 20 members, four co-chairs and 16 board members, drawn from across the world.

Board members are picked from legal, journalism, academic and human rights fields.

Kiai is one of three board members appointed from the African continent, with the board expected to grow to 40 members.

“All board members are independent of Facebook and all other social media companies,” said the board in a statement.

“Infact, many of us have been publicly critical of how the company has handled content issues in the past.”

Members are independently contracted to the board. They are not Facebook employees and cannot be removed by Facebook.

“Our financial independence is also guaranteed by the establishment of a $130 million (Sh13 billion) trust fund that is completely independent of Facebook, which will fund our operations and cannot be revoked,” explained the statement in part.

The inauguration of the oversight board comes following mounting criticism by regulators across the world on Facebook’s role in curbing the spread of disinformation and extremist ideology on its platforms.

Its other platforms include WhatsApp and Instagram.

“When we begin hearing cases later this year, users will be able to appeal to the board in cases where Facebook has removed their content. But over the following months, we will have the opportunity to review appeals from users who want Facebook to remove content,” the statement added.

“Users who do not agree with the result of a content appeal to Facebook can refer their case to the board by following guidelines that will accompany the response from Facebook."

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